College football: No pickles for Georgia linebacker Walker

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 2, 2023

By John Frierson
UGA Athletic Association

Jalon Walker is a coach’s kid, which makes him a smart football player. Being a coach’s kid has also made him super close with his mom, Sheka, since Walker’s father, Curtis, has long put in loads of hours with his teams.

One thing Walker got from his mother was a love of clothes. It’s quite possible that no Georgia football player puts more thought in what he’s going to wear during the Dawg Walk into the stadium than Walker, a 6-foot-2 and 245-pound sophomore inside linebacker from Salisbury.

In 15 appearances as a backup last season, Walker had a sack, another tackle-for-loss, nine total tackles and 11 quarterback hurries. He also blocked a punt against Kent State. The SEC media voted him preseason third-team All-SEC heading into this season, which kicked off Saturday against UT Martin at Sanford Stadium.

During our conversation, Walker also talked about his start in football, preferring to play multiple sports in high school, his strict no-pickles policy, and much more. Here’s some of what he had to say:

Frierson: What was the best part of your summer?

Walker: I got the opportunity to spend time with my family. Being a coach’s kid, it’s a lot and you don’t get the opportunity to hang out with your family as much or take the time for the family to sit down at the table at one time. I was glad to be able to do that and enjoy some time for myself.

I also took a trip to Puerto Rico, and just had a good time and was able to relax.

Frierson: Do you ever imagine what it’s like to be a regular student without all of the demands that you have each day?

Walker: I’ve developed a relationship with a lot of the student population here, and I feel like I have a very positive relationship with a lot of regular student friends. They always sit there and are like, “What do you have planned today?” (Laughs) Oh, I have practice, I have meetings, then more meetings and things of that sort.

I don’t think I would know what to do with my time if I was a regular student, but I do appreciate the opportunity to be a student-athlete. It’s a high reward and something that a lot of people don’t get to do.

Frierson: Was football always your main sport?

Walker: The first sport I ever played was basketball. I played basketball when I was younger, and I didn’t play organized football until I was in seventh grade. It’s one of the things I really appreciate about my father: he separated his life as a coach from his life as a father. He did a great job doing that and always told me that whenever I was ready to play football, I could play. He didn’t want to force me to do anything that I didn’t want to do.

I played basketball in high school, I played for PSB (Pro Skills Basketball) Elite, which is now Team Curry, sponsored by Under Armour, so we played on the Under Armour circuit for a long time. I got the opportunity to fly out to Kansas City and all these other cities to play. I also ran track.

Frierson: I bet you were a menace on the boards and in the paint in basketball.

Walker: (Laughs) I believe I have the block record at my high school. I think I recorded seven blocks in one game.

Frierson: And you’re not the tallest guy in the world.

Walker: I’m not, but I’m very explosive. A little bit of bounce.

Frierson: What did you do in track?

Walker: I mainly did the triple jump and long jump. Using that ability to be explosive.

Frierson: Does anything from doing the jumps help you on the football field?

Walker: I’m not a fan of football players just playing football in high school. You’re cutting yourself short. I feel that football players should play, all athletes should play numerous sports. I feel like what I did in track helped me with speed and explosion, and I feel like basketball helped me the same way. Being able to play multiple sports helped me overall.

Frierson: I asked Chaz Chambliss what I should ask you about, and he said to ask about your interest in designer clothes. He indicated that you might be the best dressed guy on the team at the Dawg Walk. Is that accurate?

Walker: (Laughs) It is. I take pride in the way I look. It’s just me. Being a coach’s kid and spending more time with my mom growing up put that burden on me. Me and my mom love clothes and fashion. I take pride in the way I look overall, and the Dawg Walk is a chance for me to enjoy myself.

I like dressing up in suits instead of casual wear. Overall, he is right about the designer wear and shoes and clothes. I just like dressing up.

Frierson: Over the summer, did you think at all about what you’ll be wearing to each game?

Walker: Fun fact: Out of all the games last year, I wore one suit twice. We played 15 games and I wore one suit twice. It was a cool thing to do. Me and my mom talked about it and would be like, I like this, I like that. Sometimes we didn’t agree, but the things we did agree on we set out to go get.

Frierson: What’s something you could eat every day and never get tired of it?

Walker: I’m actually a picky eater, very picky, and I don’t eat as many vegetables as I should. I don’t eat sandwiches and hamburgers, condiments and sauces. I don’t eat that type of stuff, but I love fried chicken. I could eat that every day.

Frierson: No condiments? Is it the taste or you don’t like wet stuff on your food?

Walker: It’s in part the wet stuff. Growing up, if it didn’t look appealing to me, I wasn’t going to eat it. I settled on that then and it continues to this day. … One thing I won’t eat, this is crazy, is Chick-fil-A if there are pickles on my sandwich. If there are pickles on my sandwich, I’ll send it back and ask for a new sandwich.

It’s just me, I’m a picky eater.

Assistant Sports Communications Director John Frierson is the staff writer for the UGA Athletic Association.