Georgia Tech special-teams coordinator David Walkosky tries to direct young males running around and wreaking havoc – and then he goes to work.
Walkosky is the father of four boys under the age of six, including twin two-year-olds.
“It’s 100 percent the same – controlled chaos,” he said.
Entering his first season at Tech, Walkosky holds the responsibility of fixing the Yellow Jackets’ subpar kicking game. The self-described “special-teams nerd” will attempt to do so with subject knowledge and deep wells of intensity and enthusiasm.
He recently sat for an interview, part of a series with Tech’s assistant coaches.
Walkosky grew up in Steubenville, Ohio, the son of a steel-mill worker and a flower-shop owner. He lived near family among neighbors he described as “close-knit.” When he was in college, for instance, his best friend’s parents gave him their old car so he could drive to and from school. He is the youngest of four brothers.
“You always had people to play with and people to beat up on you,” he said. Being last born did not mean getting spoiled. “It was always the opposite. (You) get something, they would always beat you up and take it away.”
Stayed in school
In high school, Walkosky worked at the post office and made deliveries for his mother’s flower shop. In college, he worked in a tin mill where his father and brothers also worked. He cleaned and stocked tin-plated steel coils and shoveled grease.
“That was always a good motivator to get my education,” he said.
Walkosky is an avid bow hunter who started hunting deer with his father and brothers at the age of 8 (“our family was psychotically safe,” he said). He described with enthusiasm the peace of being in the woods.
“But I also love when the big buck comes, the intensity, your heart rate gets going, and staying calm and still making the shot,” he said.
Among his mentors…
Walkosky played at Toledo and got a new head coach when he was a senior – Nick Saban. It was Saban’s first job as a head coach. Walkosky said it was obvious that, due to his attention to detail, demand for perfection and knowledge of the game, he was destined for success beyond Toledo. Saban stayed one season before becoming defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns, where he coached one season with Tech defensive coordinator Al Groh.
Said Walkosky of Saban, “I got him started, of course.”
Jack of all trades
Walkosky was head coach at Division II Tiffin (Ohio) University 2008-10. Given the limited resources and staff, Walkosky was also equipment manager, strength coach and study hall monitor.
“You just get the job done,” Walkosky said. “We demand, expect perfection from them, so you’ve got to make it conducive for them to have that opportunity. You can’t have them where they don’t have their shoestrings, they don’t have a belt.”
A couple times before games, the locker room was locked. Walkosky employed “my Steubenville techniques” to pick the lock with his driver’s license.
Said Walkosky wryly, “I only use it for emergency situations.”
The name game
Walkosky’s sons are named Paulo, Nicolo, Matteo and Giano, the last two of which are the twins. Their names are a compromise between Walkosky and his wife Wendy. Walkosky wanted what he calls “Midwestern, traditional names,” while Wendy, who grew up in California, wanted something a little more atypical.
“My wife’s friends are Peaches and Sunshine,” he said, meaning it literally.
The names are a nod to Walkosky’s full-blooded Italian mother, though coming up with Giano was difficult. Walkosky said Giano, born prematurely, was “Baby G” for three weeks until he left the hospital.
Likes the job
Despite a deep background in special teams, this is the first job Walkosky has held where his only responsibility is special teams. (Likewise, Walkosky is coach Paul Johnson’s first pure special-teams coach.) Having the time to devote only to breaking down opponents’ special teams is “awesome,” Walkosky said.
Walkosky said because he plans to use so many starters, his intent is to try to keep schemes as simple as possible and find small keys for players to use.
“I don’t want them thinking on special teams,” he said. “If I have them thinking, I’m just taking their talents away.”
Time to work
One benefit of being a pure special-teams coach is that Walkosky will be able to spend the entire practice with Tech’s kickers, punters and snappers. In the past, the specialists had a coach with them only during special-teams periods of practice. Walkosky is confident that extra time will pay off for kicker Justin Moore and punter Sean Poole, as well as the other specialists.
“They all have potential to be pretty good and do well and help us win, but they all have to be consistent,” he said.
Walkosky said all positions are open.
Likes his options
Walkosky said that if he could have the choice of any roster in the country for his special teams, he would pick Tech’s, “no question about it.” A-backs, B-backs, receivers, defensive backs and linebackers will make up the core of his special teams units.
“That’s the body type,” he said. “The guys that can run, are athletic and are strong and very intelligent, that’s the guys I want. And that’s the guys I have here.”
The opening act
Tech’s first game will be a trial for Walkosky, as Virginia Tech is known for coach Frank Beamer’s game-breaking special-teams units.
Asked if the matchup gets him a little more amped up, Walkosky said, “he’s nationally known as a special-teams guru, so to say no, I’d be nuts.”
Walkosky actually made several trips to Blacksburg, Va., as an assistant coach with Toledo to visit with the Hokies’ defensive coordinator Bud Foster and his staff.
Said Walkosky, “I don’t know if Coach Beamer has a clue who I am.”
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