Football, Top Story

Walker, Cheevers Tabbed Walter Camp All-Americans

For the second-straight year, a Boston College football defensive back has earned Walter Camp All-American honors, and this time he has company.

Both cornerback Hamp Cheevers and return man Michael Walker were named Second Team members on Thursday night, becoming the 14th and 15th players in program history to be classified as Walter Camp All-Americans. The last time that the Eagles have had two Walter Camp All-Americans in the same season—Doug Flutie and Tony Thurman—was 1984, the same year that Flutie won the Heisman Trophy and BC recorded its first 10-plus win season since 1940.

Last year, Lukas Denis received Second Team honors, snapping the Eagles’ 10-year drought without a defensive back on either of the Walter Camp All-American teams. The last before him was former Indianapolis Colt Jamie Silva, all the way back in 2007. Denis finished the 2017 regular season tied for the nation lead with seven interceptions, the fourth most in single-season BC history. Exactly one year later, Cheevers is in the same exact position: the junior—who filled in for now-New York Giants cornerback Kamrin Moore the final three games of last season—is deadlocked with Syracuse’s Andre Cisco atop the national leaderboard with seven picks.

Like Denis, Cheevers broke out as a first-year starter, tallying seven pass breakups to go along with his 39 tackles and one forced fumble. The Trenton, Fla. native made a name for himself jumping routes, occasionally tricking opposing quarterbacks to throw his way—but he wasn’t tested all too often. To some degree, Cheevers quietly created an island on his side of the field, conceding just 35 receptions on 74 targets for 433 yards, according to Pro Football Focus. When targeted, the junior allowed a meager 40.0 passer rating, the second-lowest among ACC cornerbacks.

All told, he played in 92 percent of BC’s defensive snaps, a 62 percent increase from the year before. He made the most of the opportunity, especially when he got his hands on the ball. Without hesitation, Cheevers routinely hit the joysticks to stage a highlight-reel return and, although he was stopped in his tracks more times than not, he still recorded three 20-plus yard returns, including an 81-yard pick-six in the Eagles’ Week Two rout of Holy Cross.

His return numbers pale in comparison to Walker’s, though—then again, the same can be said for most players. The senior wideout rounded out the regular season atop the FBS in combined kick return yards for the second-consecutive year, having racked up 1,294 yards on special teams in 2018. Walker clocked out at 23rd in the country in kickoff returns (25.5 yards per return) and seventh in the nation in punt returns (13.7 yards per return).

The Naples, Fla. native is now one of the three-most prolific return men in program history, as far as kickoff and punt return average is concerned. Walker will certainly be remembered, especially after he housed a 74-yard punt return to give BC its lone lead in its College GameDay-featured matchup against No. 2 Clemson on Nov. 10—his first career punt return touchdown.

The Eagles are one of 29 teams in the country to boast at least one Walter Camp All-American this season and one of a select 10 to make more than one appearance on the two-team roster. Thursday’s news comes as no surprise for BC, a team poised to send five-plus players to this year’s NFL Draft. The accolades are just another reminder that this iteration of Eagles might just be one of the most talented in program history.

Featured Images by Kaitlin Meeks and Jonathan Ye / Heights Editor and For The Heights

December 6, 2018