After an award-winning career as Texas A&M’s starting quarterback and tenure as the head coach of three different high school football teams, David “Moon” Walker has released his autobiography, “I’ll Tell You When You’re Good!”. Leading up to the Aggie’s season-opener and first-ever SEC game, we at Gamedayr thought it only appropriate to interview the last A&M quarterback to beat the Florida Gators.
The Louisiana born left handed gun slinger, turned Wishbone specialist, stepped onto Kyle Field at the young age of 17, becoming the youngest quarterback to ever play college football.
Walker, who would play a total of four years for the Aggies (1973-74 and 1976-77), amassed a record of 25-9 as a starter, as well as one of the most successful careers in A&M history.
[Related: Moon Highlighting the Florida @ Aggies Game]
Of those 25 wins, one stands out in particular to Florida and A&M fans heading into this weekend’s SEC opener – the 1976 Sun Bowl (actually played January 2, 1977). Walker would lead the Aggies to a 37-14 victory over Doug Dickey’s Gators, completing 11 of 18 passes for 122 yards and one touchdown, as well as adding a rushing touchdown.
In this edition of Locker Room Legends, David walks us into his life and talks about the automobile accident that inspired the book, his playing days, the atmosphere at Kyle Field, the state of his alma mater’s football program and what it means to face the Florida Gators.
– “I started writing (the autobiography) in December 2010 after an auto accident where I had broken my kneck. I completed the book after the surgery, and I was able to spend another three or fourth months on it before I had it published.”
– “It was something I had always thought about writing. I had a career and two girls and that takes away time from you until you get to retirement age. People ask why now, but it was because I was busy with other things. I felt it was something on so many different fronts that I wanted to discuss.”
-“I wanted to talk a little bit about what football meant to me, and lying on a hospital bed and wondering if you are going to be ok, or if you’re going to be paralyzed or in a wheel chair for the rest of your life. Basically I just wanted to say that if you played football in your life time, or not, everybody has inside of them what they need to win. You don’t have to have been an athlete, you just have to have enough internal fortitude of faith in God, because anybody can do it.”
-“I wanted to explain everything from a quarterback’s eyes, what it felt like to be 17-years old and quarterbacking a major college football program. To be an all-state Quarterback from Louisiana at 16 and what it felt like to be playing in a major conference in big time games, and also what was going on behind the scenes that sabotaged us a little bit. It’s just an honest, forth-wright book. ”
-“In my opinion, the book came out pretty well and all my old teamates that I’ve talked to love it. All of my old friends from Sulphur (my home town), Lake Charles and the Calcasieu Parish have really, really enjoyed reading it.
– “I think it’s a wonderful human interest story because it comes from all angles. It’s not a football story per say, as it is about how we’re all treated, how we’re coached, how we hear things that are said to us and how we react to those things. I mention being a messiah at one point at A&M and then being a pariah, after I left school for a summer and prepared to transfer to another school in Louisiana; then how it felt to come back and reclaim the job after deciding to stay at A&M.”
– “I came out of high school and, unbeknownst to A&M, I became the youngest quarterback in the history of the NCAA. I started my first game at 17. I played in the first football game when we hosted Wichita State. They came in for the second game of the 1972 season and I came in during the second half. I ended up starting the second conference game of the season and finished the season as the starting quarterback. I was voted Southwest Conference freshman of the year.”
– “A game we had against LSU in 1974 was what actually set everything off. They were No. 7 in the country and we weren’t ranked anything. I go into great detial about that game in the book because it is one of the most unbelievable games that I ever played in in my life, and after we won we shot all the way into the top 10 (of the polls). That following Monday, we set records for season tickets. We played the rest of the ’74 season in front of all-time record crowds. We were setting scoring records for A&M against nearly every team we palyed. We had maybe the second or third best offense in the history of the school. Three years later, they started building the third deck of the staidum. Everything began with the LSU game in ’74 and it’s been going since then.”
– “A&M was known for choking and losing the big games. In 1975 we went 10-0 and were up against Arkansas. They had a very good football team and they ended up beating us quite handily, 31-6, and then went on to the Cotton Bowl and demolished Georgia. If we hadn’t switched offenses and quarterbacks I feel quite certain we would have been the team that won the national championship that year. When we played Arkansas we were No. 2, the same year No.1 Ohio State got creamed by UCLA (losing 23-10 in the Rose Bowl). We could have been sitting there after beating UGA in the Cotton Bowl and declared ourselves No. 1 with another national championship for Texas A&M.
The A&M Tradition…
- “On gamedays we will always pack the stands and we are always going to be loud. We also have the Midnight Yell, which is where everyone gets in the stadium the night before. We have Yell Leaders, which are male cheerleaders – we’ve never had female cheerleaders here – that lead the student body in the coreographed cheers. It’s always a huge spectacle. There is a great deal of excitment and it is one of the most wonderful atmospheres you’ll ever find at a college campus.”
– “What makes us different I think is that, maybe to our detrement, we don’t have that hate, we don’t have the venom in the air that a lot of other places have. We totally support the team. You’ll never hear anybody boo, you”ll never hear anybody razz, you’ll never hear anybody go after the other team. There is never a discouraging word. It’s all about promoting our team and talking our team up and hopefully coming out on the right side. There are a lot of other stadiums that aren’t that way. I’m not going to name them but one of their initials is LSU”
– “It’s just one of those things when you go on the field and you’re an Aggie and playing in fornt of that crowd. I know that a lot of crowds are great, but I just feel that our fans, with the millitary music that we’ve all heard all of our lives, songs like the Aggie fight song, and all that stuff, that is unique to Texas A&M that you don’t hear anywhere else. I think that has as much to do with the spirit, and that feeling that you are where you need to be more, than any other place that I can think of.”
– “I can tell you we have a national championship atmosphere. If I can say anything about this A&M crowd, it’s that they are going to be louder than anything you’ve ever heard. In 1977 Lou Holtz had taken over at Arkansas and before the game he said “men, we are about to go into the best stadium in America for a football game.” That was compliment enough right there. ESPN saying that we’re the best student body in America. I think says a lot right there. There aren’t many schools whose fan base has a different name than the players on the field. You go to LSU they’re all Tigers, if you go to Arkansas they’re all Razorbacks and you go to Ole Miss they’re all Rebels. At A&M you’ve got the Aggies on the field, but in the stands they’re the 12th Man. I can’t think of any other college that has made a differential between the two. I just always found that kind of different and unique. And I guess that’s one of the things that makes Texas A&M what it is.
A&M Football Today…
– “One thing I’ve been happy with is that in the past A&M has always been a run-oriented offense and lead by our defense, like in the 70’s, which was the game plan for winning during that time. The problem was with the wishbone, if you couldn’t throw the ball and you fall behind you’re going to get beat. That’s probably the reason for the five or six games we lost during my playing days. Slowly we’ve gone 180 degrees. Now we have a guy (in new head coach Kevin Sumlin) who doens’t mind throwing the ball but still has to be mindful that defense is still going to win games.”
– “We were in the Big 12 where everybody likes to throw the ball and if you didn’t have a good secondary and linebackers who can put a rush on a guy, then eventually you’re going to be picked apart. Now we’re going into a conference that’s more like the Southwestern Conference. (In the SEC) they line up in a two-back set with a tight end and two wide recievers and they’ll come right back at you. It might make our defense better, we hope.”
– “The offense is something I’ve been yelling at for 40 years now. When I coached high school football I sure didn’t run the wishbone. I set the Houston-area record for throwing the ball 57 times with one quarterback, but you still have to play defense. I’m not sure what Houston’s defense was like but I know they scored enough points that it didn’t matter. Hopefully we can do the same here.”
– “The long and the short of it is that, we at A&M are a very frustrated group and there is no doubt about it. It seems that everything we try just doesnt’t seem to work. We’ve been to a few Cotton Bowls and we’ve beaten Auburn and we’ve had a few things to be proud of, but I remember in 1976 that we finished 7th in the AP, which is third best in the history of the school. That tells you a whole lot about the history of our success. I think that helps make it a neccessary decision to join the SEC. I just saw a big sign driviing by my house saying “This is SEC Country.” Those signs are going up all over the state. You could come in from Lousiana, you could come in from Arkansas and you’re going to see that sign. You’ll see a couple even in Austin (where the University of Texas is located). I don’t know if they have a sign up in New Mexico yet, but I don’t think they need one.”
– “If this really is SEC country in Texas then we made the right call. I don’t know what the hesitation was. It took the (University of Texas’) Longhorn Network’s agrement with ESPN before we had had enough. This is going to help recruiting. This is going to bring in the best players. They’re not picking between Texas and Oklahoma anymore. A&M is now automatically on the short list for high school players.”
On Facing Florida…
– “I know Florida is going to be impressed. I know that Will Muschamp, who coached many years at Texas, will have his players ready for what they’re going to do.”
-“Now here we are playing Florida, the first time we’ve played anybody, particularly a top-25 team, in the home opener since 1995. Our crowd is going to have to rise to the occasion, which I’m sure they will. It’s going to be a good game, an interesting game and I think the forecast (for the final score) is 28-26 or something like that. If we can be at the high end of that, everybody is going to be really excited heading into the season.”
More Moon >> Highlighting the Florida @ Aggies Game]
– David “Moon” Walker, Author of “I’ll Tell You When You’re Good! – The Memoir of America’s Youngest College Quarterback” (www.12thManQB.com)
Facebook: “I’ll Tell You When You’re Good by David Walker” and “David Moon Walker”
12th Man Quarterback David “Moon” Walker with Chip Howard Interview (Part 1)
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12th Man Quarterback David “Moon” Walker with Chip Howard Interview (Part 2)
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