Sports

Is P.J. Walker the XFL’s First True Star?

The XFL is finally back. Just two weeks into the inaugural comeback season, some players prove that the league can produce superstars outside of the NFL. Houston Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker has emerged as one of the most exciting quarterbacks in the XFL. He does so with a combination of speed and an absolute cannon of an arm that leaves the crowd electric.

The casual observer may consider the XFL as a place for the has-beens and never-weres. On the flip side, it could be a stage for some athletes to get a chance at stardom.

Who is P.J. Walker?

Walker may look familiar to college football fans, as he was the face of Temple’s football team for four years. A starter during most of his time at Temple, he was never one of the biggest names, but Walker’s college career put him on the map of NFL scouts.

Walker’s best college year may have been his nine-game freshman season. Despite appearing in fewer games than each of his ensuing years, the New Jersey native’s 20 touchdowns were the second-most of his college career. With only eight interceptions, he was an efficient thrower and capable rusher. 

After stepping back during his sophomore and junior years in terms of production, a senior Walker threw for 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions as well as a career-high 3,295 yards.

In all, he threw for 74 touchdowns, 44 interceptions, 10,668 yards, and finished with a 129.1 quarterback rating during his four years at the school. Walker led the team to two consecutive AAC title games and set new program records for passing yards, completions, and touchdowns. 

NFL dreams

Like every college quarterback at a big school, Walker had dreams of NFL glory. After graduating from Temple, he declared for the 2017 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, he watched every pick without hearing his name. But he wasn’t ready to put his dreams on hold. The Indianapolis Colts brought in Walker as an undrafted QB in 2017.

Over the next two years, Walker was constantly in and out of the Colts’ practice squad, getting signed and cut a mind-boggling 11 times before the final blow in September 2019. Walker got another chance at pro football with the 2019 XFL Draft. The Roughnecks selected him with the 11th pick

The XFL’s first star?

Entering the season, there were more recognizable players than Walker across the XFL. But just two weeks into the year, few have performed at the same level with as much excitement as Walker.

In his first game as an XFL quarterback, Walker led the Roughnecks to a decisive 37-17 victory over the Los Angeles Wildcats after trailing 17-12. His four touchdowns and 272 passing yards made him a breakout performer of the new league.

The following week, he showed he could also perform in the face of adversity. The St. Louis Battle Hawks made a last-minute push to overcome the Roughnecks before Walker and company secured the 28-24 victory and a perfect record after two weeks. 

Nobody knows where Walker or the XFL are headed. But if anyone parlays success in the upstart league into something bigger, early money should be on Walker. He is the perfect combination of talent, poise, and workmanship that NFL managers love. If the XFL is his audition for America’s favorite league, he’s off to a fantastic start.

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