From start to finish Austin Walter put the team on his back, doing more than enough to be named the 2018 Rice football team MVP.
The 2018 Rice football team was built on young legs. Only four upperclassmen started the Owls’ final game of the regular season as the coaching staff opted to continue building toward the future. That bright future is possible because of the efforts of team players like Austin Walter who did everything that was asked of him and then a little more.
As the staff tinkered with the depth chart, working diligently to get the right players in the right places, Walter produced everywhere. Whether he was lined up in the backfield or split out wide, the senior from Crosby, TX was one of the most reliable players on the entire roster throughout the 2018 season.
Walter finished the year with 1,580 all-purpose yards, 17th most in the nation. That total included 564 yards rushing, 525 yards receiving and 491 kick return yards. He averaged 27.3 yards per return, eighth best in the nation. At one point during the season, he led the nation in all-purpose yardage. That’s no small feat for a player on an offense that wasn’t all that efficient and struggled to stay on the field.
The success for Walter was bittersweet. He admitted going out on top with his best statistical year was special, but added he was “not as happy” as he could have been given the two-win season. “I wanted to leave a legacy as a team,” said Walter, “but God has a bigger plan for all of us… looking back at it, there’s nothing I regret.”
As young as this team is, they won’t have many holes in the two-deep to fill next season. The gap in the offense left by Walter will be the toughest to patch and will likely require a combination of players to match what Walter was able to do on his own.
That’s because he was more than just a running back, more than a receiver and more than a kick returner. He was a leader in the locker room and the key cog in a team still learning their own identity. Hats off to you Austin Walter, the 2018 Rice football MVP.