The NFL Draft’s number one pick Travon Walker is already succeeding in his debut season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, picking up his first sack in the Hall of Fame game earlier this month. The 6’5’, 275-pound defensive lineman comes from a military family and attributes his go-getter attitude to his upbringing. His father and grandfather both served.
"I'm proud of being a Marine, and I think he's proud that I'm a Marine also," Travon’s father Stead Walker told FOX Sports. "He has some of the Marine Corps traits in him also: an early-morning person, organization with things."
“He was always on me, since I was a young kid, and I really thank him for that. I feel like it molded me into the man that I am today,” Walker said of his father.
Stead and his wife, high school sweetheart Lasonia, raised Travon in Thomaston, Georgia along with his two sisters. Travon played college football 100 miles north at University of Georgia, and was selected to the 2019 All-American Bowl.
He was named to the Freshman All-SEC Team in his first year at Georgia with 15 tackles, 3.5 for loss with 2.5 sacks in 12 contests, and played in nine games as a reserve the following season (13 tackles, two for loss with one sack). He was a part of the team that won the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship. He started all 15 games for the national champions in 2021, recording 37 stops, 7.5 for loss with six starts, and two pass breakups.
Though Travon’s grandfather also served in the Army in the Korean War, he rarely spoke about it. His father reminisced about his early Marine Corps recruit training at Parris Island in the college newspaper Dawg Post:
“When you get off that bus, and put your toes on those yellow footprints it doesn’t matter if you are Black, white, Latino - doesn’t matter if you are Baptist, Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, or just nothing - they cut everyone’s hair the same. You have the same socks, shoes and underwear - everything is the same,” he said. “The only difference might be their skin color, but that’s it. We were all the same. By being the same you have the bond. It starts automatically.”
Stead served in the 1991 Gulf War with additional stops in Okinawa and Camp Lejeune. He recalled the importance of training in high pressure situations, similar to the intense preparation his son goes through before the football season.
“When rounds start coming down range at you, it is an experience you will never forget. There is a high percentage that you may mess-up your underwear,” he said. “Looking back on it now - the training definitely kicked in. The muscle memory from constant doing and being told and doing things over and over - it kicked in, and it worked. I can say that for sure - it worked. If it didn’t work I would not be here today. It is a blessing to be here.”
Muscle memory and hard training has taken Travon to the NFL and experts already predict his success in the sport.
“Overall, Walker’s first two games have been what a team would like to see out of their top pick. If he can continue to make strides, he should give the Jags the boost they desperately needed in 2021 when the defense finished 20th in the league,” said USA Today’s “Touchdown Jaguars!” blog.