Walter leads Rice's dynamic running game into Austin

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sean Chu | Rice Thresher

Rice running back Austin Walter went two years without playing in a game. In Rice’s 56­-16 drubbing of Wagner on Saturday, the redshirt freshman rushed for 107 yards on 12 carries and one touchdown. In his first collegiate game, he averaged nine yards per carry. There to watch his dazzling debut was his twin brother, Aston Walter.

“I’ve been seeing [Austin] do this my whole life, so I’m pretty used to it,” said Aston, a redshirt freshman wide receiver for the Owls. “I’m glad that he’s doing it on a great stage, but my whole life I expect that out of him.”

Aston may have expected that out of his brother, but for other players and coaches who haven’t known Austin, his performance speaks for itself.

“We were very pleased with [Austin’s] performance as a redshirt freshman,” head coach David Bailiff said. “We still have to get him better in his pass protection where he can be an every-down back, but he had a very
dynamic performance.”

How did Austin prepare to have such a dynamic performance?

“Honestly, I just did a lot of praying,” he said. “And making sure that I stayed focused on what I needed to do.”

Bailiff says they try to redshirt most of the freshmen at Rice based on the university’s academic demands. The year off can have its benefits, such as making the transition smoother.

“We all may not want to redshirt,” Aston said.

But Austin looked at it differently.

“I looked at it as my ability to get my body ready to play college football,” Austin said.

In his year off, Austin gained 11 pounds of solid muscle – he came into Rice weighing 179 pounds, and now weighs 190 pounds.

“You have to bulk up so your body can maintain the wear and tear at the college level,” Austin said. “[In college], everybody’s bigger, everybody’s faster, everybody’s stronger.”

Austin, along with his teammates and his brother, would work out with the strength and conditioning coach to help them get stronger and faster. He had a nutritionist help him plan his meals so that his plates would be healthy and “colorful.” He ate fruits and vegetables with most of his meals and made sure he remained hydrated throughout the day. Now Austin gets ready for a Texas defense that is tough, fast and athletic, according to Austin, Aston and Bailiff.

Austin will get ready like he did last week — focusing on what he can do, with the occasional prayer.