January 24, 2003

Walker Drafted by Earthquakes

Jan. 24, 2003

by Jack Ferdon, Staff Writer
The Santa Clara

At least one Santa Clara senior has a job lined up after graduation.

Jamil Walker, a striker for the Santa Clara men's soccer team, was selected by the San Jose Earthquakes last week in the Major League Soccer Super Draft held in Kansas City. Walker was selected in the fourth round of the draft, the 39th of 60 total selections.

"It's exciting," said Walker. "I've been playing soccer since I was five and it's always been a dream of mine to play the game professionally."

Walker was equally thrilled with the fact that he was picked by San Jose, so he will not have to cut his senior year short to move out of the area.

"Getting drafted by the Earthquakes gives me the opportunity to stay in school and see my friends, so I'm happy about that," he said.

San Jose Head Coach Frank Yallop had been impressed by Walker's stellar play from the forward position throughout his Bronco career and let him know about it, which lessened the surprise of Thursday's news.

"I wasn't a 100 percent certain I was going to get drafted," said Walker. "But [Yallop] told me I was on his short list of guys he wanted to draft."

But this does not mean that Walker has been guaranteed a spot on the team for the upcoming season.

"I still have to go to camp, play well and get signed to a contract," he said.

If Walker does make the team, most likely he will have to accept a spot on the bench or play at a position other than forward - conditions that Walker is willing to accept.

"You never know. I might play another position or the same one," said Walker. "Either way I'm flexible."

In addition to Walker, Yallop drafted five players from local colleges, including three players from Stanford and one each from California and San Jose State.

Unlike draft picks in the NFL or NBA, Walker and his fellow entrants into the cash-strapped MLS - which is perpetually teetering on the brink of bankruptcy - cannot expect to be rolling in a LeBron James-style Hummer their first year out of college.

"You don't get paid a lot in your first year," said Walker. "You can make pretty good money after you've been in the league a few years. But the money I'll get will be good enough to live off of."

Walker earned NSCAA/adidas All-Far West, All-West Region and first team All-West Coast Conference honors in his senior season with Santa Clara. He finished the year with 14 goals and four assists. The six goals he notched in WCC play led the conference, and the 14 total goals gave him the third highest single-season goal total in Bronco history. In 2001, he netted three goals, which was good enough for second on the team.

Walker's selection by the Earthquakes will be a source of pride for the men's soccer program and Head Coach Cameron Rast.

"Any time a player gets drafted from your program it gives you a great sense of accomplishment," said Rast, who led the Broncos to a 10-6-1 record in his first year as skipper. "You feel like you can train players well enough to move on to the next level."

And Walker's ex-coach thinks he will excel in the MLS.

"I think Jamil has great self-esteem and confidence, and those are two major traits needed for success in the pros," said Rast. "He has the intangibles he'll need to succeed."