P.J. Walker: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

P.J. Walker, P.J. Walker temple, Temple, college football

Walker looks to surprise a whole lot of people this weekend against No. 9 Notre Dame. (Getty)

P.J. Walker refuses to let the spotlight get too bright.
The Temple quarterback has been thrust into the national attention this season, leading the Owls to their first top 25 ranking in decades. Now, Walker takes on his biggest test yet – a nationally televised, primetime matchup against Notre Dame.

Walker knows what people expect. He knows he’s leading an underdog squad into South Bend. He also doesn’t care. Walker wants to win and he expects to win, no matter what people – or the spotlight – think. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Walker Played Football at Elizabeth High School in New Jersey

Walker played his high school football for coach John Quinn at Elizabeth High School in New Jersey where he was an offensive threat every time he touched the ball. Proficient at throwing as well as running, Walker was named the 2012 Newark-Star Ledger State Offensive Player of the Year and led his team to a state title that season.

During his junior season, Walker was one of the most accurate passers in teh country, completing 63.5 percent of his passes for 2,168 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Walker also played basketball at Elizabeth High.

2. He’s Thrown For Over 1,000 Yards This Season at Temple

P.J. Walker, P.J. Walker temple, Temple, college football

Walker has found his footing this season, sparking an Owls offense that has caught plenty of people by surprise. (Getty)

Walker has been, perhaps, the most consistent part of the Owls offense all season and through games, the junior has thrown for 1,314 yards, nine touchdowns and just three interceptions. So far this season, he’s led Temple to a historic victory over Penn State, a three-game road stretch in September and a ranking in the AP and Coaches Top 25 polls for the first time since 1979.

Still, Walker hasn’t let the success go to his head. He told NJ Advanced Media:

It’s all about who you are as a person. If you’re the kind of person that wants to be involved in all the hype and stuff around it, that’s on you. That’s the trap you’ll fall in. But if you go out there playing football, having fun with your brothers, everything will fall into place at the end of the game.

He set career-high passing marks with 391 yards at UMass and is currently third all-time in program history in completions, touchdowns, and fourth all-time in attempts.

3. Walker Had an Impressive Freshman Season With the Owls

It was a bit of a baptism by fire for Walker when he arrived at Temple in 2013. He lost an open battle for the starting quarterback job to then-junior Connor Reilly in the summer, but as the season progressed Walker to started to find his footing and quickly emerged as the Owls offensive leader.

His breakout moment came against Louisville when he went 10-for-19 for 182 yards; in the first half. Walker took over the starting QB job the next week.

He led the Owls to their first victory (33-14) under brand-new head coach Matt Rhule against Army and saved his best performance for the squad’s matchup against Memphis in the season-finale. Walker finished 20-for-32 for 328 yards and four touchdowns. By the end of the season Walker set a Temple freshman record with 20 touchdown passes, just two shy of the all-time school record.

Walker’s 2,084 passing yards in his freshman season tied Henry Burris for the fourth best single-season mark in school history.

4. He Worked With QB Coach Glenn Thomas This Offseason to Prepare for His Junior Year

P.J. Walker, P.J. Walker temple, Temple, College Football

Walker spent the better part of the offseason working to return to his freshman season form. So far, so good. (Getty)

Following his standout freshman season, Walker was hampered by injuries during his sophomore year. This offseason, however, the junior QB spent time working with brand-new coach Glenn Thomas to improve the offense, refocus his on-field performance and take a step back to 2013.

Thomas told Philly.com:

“I think P.J. brings a lot to the table and if we just bring more comfort to him in game situations, I think the arrow is up with him. I am expecting the best. We want to strive for perfection and don’t want to settle for anything less.

Thomas got started with a coaching job at Division II Midwestern State where he stayed from 2001 to 2007, including three seasons as the team’s offensive coordinator. In 2008, he was hired by Mike Smith as an offensive assistant before becoming quarterbacks coach for the Atlanta Falcons.

5. He’s Battled Through a Shoulder Injury All Season

P.J. Walker, P.J. Walker temple, Temple, college football

Walker was hampered by an ankle injury last year and, this season, has been fighting through a shoulder issue. (Getty)

Through all the hype and the national attention and the interviews, one thing has gone relatively unnoticed this season. Walker has been playing the entire fall with a shoulder injury after separating it in the Owls season-opening win over Penn State.

Walker didn’t miss any time and has told local media that he’s feeling much better. Still, it’s clear to those who are familiar with Waker’s game that the injury has hampered him somewhat. Throughout his time at Temple, and particularly when he was in high school, Walker was a dual-threat quarterback with a tendency to run once plays break down.

The junior QB hasn’t been able to run much at all this fall, something that could certainly open up the Owls offensive gameplan in the second half of the season. After all, Temple is ranked No. 93 in the country on the ground