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Ravens rookie corner Tray Walker dedicates football career to his late father's memory

Ravens rookie Tray Walker's father's ashes were spread the day after Walker was drafted by the Ravens.

Tommy Lee Walker's ashes were spread off of the waters of Miami last Sunday by his family.

It was one day after the Ravens drafted his son, Texas Southern cornerback Tray Walker, in the fourth round.

It would have been his father's 54th birthday. Tommy Lee Walker died in November from a heart attack.

"This upcoming season, the whole process of right now, I dedicate that to him," Tray Walker said Friday during the first day of a rookie minicamp at the Ravens' training complex. "That's all he wanted. He just wanted the best for me and prayed to God that I would get this chance, and now I'm here."

Drafted 136th overall last weekend, Walker became the first Texas Southern player to be drafted since wide receiver Joey Jamison went to the Green Bay Packers in the fifth round in 2000. He's the highest draft pick for the school since center Joe Burch went in the third round to the New England Patriots in 1994.

Walker arrives in the NFL with a lot of motivational fuel after Texas Southern was the only school to offer him a scholarship out of Miami Northwestern High School. Walker played at the same high school as a pair of first-round draft picks: Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper.

"I really can't explain that," Walker said of not being heavily recruited. "Maybe I didn't have much help. I wasn't recognized by most Division I schools. I was only a buck-seventy-five coming out of high school.

"Personally, my athletic ability has always been there. I played against those top guys, Amari Cooper, Teddy Bridgewater, Devonta Freeman. For them to go to a Division I school, I felt like they had better opportunities. I always felt like I could play up to that potential."

Being at the Ravens' $35 million training complex the past few days offered another reminder to Walker of how far he's progressed from his high school days as a recruiting afterthought.

"It felt good, but it also feels like I belong here and I always have," Walker said. "Just being a part of this team right now, it's a wonderful feeling, a goal achievement. I'm trying to make the best of it."

Walker intercepted nine career passes while competing in the relatively obscure Southwestern Athletic Conference, which is at the Football Championship Subdivision level.

Walker has run the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds. He also has a 36 1/2 inch vertical leap, a 10-7 broad jump, a 4.05 short shuttle and a 6.7 three-cone drill.

However, Walker wasn't invited to the NFL scouting combine, instead competing at the NFL super regional combine. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound press corner visited the Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons, according to sources. Walker had private workouts with the Arizona Cardinals and Houston Texans.

"I do, I really do," Walker said when asked if he has a chip on his shoulder. "I felt as if coming from a SWAC school we are overlooked. We don't get as much media and publicity as other schools, I do feel that way."

Now, Walker is under contract with the Ravens after signing a four-year, $2.625 million deal that includes a $345,692 signing bonus. He was the first of the Ravens' nine draft picks to agree to terms.

"It felt good being back on the field," said Walker, who played in the Gridiron Showcase all-star game. "I haven't been on the field for a few months. It felt wonderful."

Tray Walker was unable to attend the ceremony with his family, but got photographs and videos from them. Now, he's dedicating his football career to his late father.

"I couldn't make it unfortunately," Walker said. "I got the pictures and the video. It's a wonderful feeling seeing that."

awilson@baltsun.com

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