Bruins Turn to Walker to Run Their Defense

Times Staff Writer

UCLA hired veteran NFL and college secondary coach DeWayne Walker as defensive coordinator Monday, nearly two weeks after Larry Kerr was fired by Coach Karl Dorrell.

Walker, 45, began his coaching career at Mt. San Antonio College in 1988 and has worked under three of the most respected defensive coaches in football. He spent the last two seasons coaching defensive backs with the Washington Redskins under coordinator Gregg Williams, and he also has coached secondaries for Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll.

"This is where I started. College football was an opportunity for me to get into coaching," said Walker, who was raised in Pasadena and starred at cornerback for Muir High and Pasadena City College.

"I put in a lot of hard work, and I just think that this is my time now to put to work what I've learned from some great coaches."

Before joining the Redskins in 2004, Walker spent two years coaching the New York Giants' secondary under Johnny Lynn. In 2001, he worked under Carroll at USC as associate head coach and secondary coach.

In 2000, Walker was defensive backs coach for Belichick at New England, the same post he held with Carroll with the Patriots in 1998 and 1999.

Dorrell said Walker's NFL experience and hunger for the job made him the perfect choice to revive a UCLA defense that ranked next to last against the run among 119 Division I-A teams last season.

"He's an up-and-coming coach who is going to enjoy this opportunity," Dorrell said. "The players will be running a similar system that they are accustomed to, but I think it's going to be the way that he's going to coach it and the way he approaches his planning and execution of the fundamentals [that] are going to be the striking difference under his control."

With the national letter of intent signing period starting Wednesday and the Bruins' first day of spring practice scheduled for Feb. 21, Walker understands his challenge. He said he spoke with a variety of coaches at the NFL and college level, including Carroll.

"I didn't talk to Pete about whether I should accept the job or not, but we did talk," Walker said. "I talked with him yesterday, and it appeared that he was happy. He knows that I've worked real hard and that I've put myself in position [for this job]."

Walker said his priority will be getting UCLA's defense to create more turnovers.

"The type of defenses that I'm used to, we'll definitely want to attack," Walker said. "One thing that I've learned is that we have to take the football away." That's something the Bruins rarely accomplished last season, when they forced only six interceptions and recovered 13 fumbles.

"You learn so many things so fast on the NFL level because that's what you do. You train for football all of the time," Dorrell said. "This is a plus, plus for DeWayne.... He's very organized, and obviously he has his own ideas of what he wants to do in terms of structure.

"I needed someone who had some great energy and some great ideas about taking the defense and tweaking it to do some great things. We do that offensively all of the time. Defensively, you have to have the same mindset, which is to always do something innovative to give yourself an advantage."

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