MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The start of a new season stirs emotions for every player, but for Miami Hurricanes’ running back Mark Walton, Saturday’s season opener carries extra significance.
Walton’s mother, Kimberly Rogers, passed away in March. Saturday’s matchup against Bethune-Cookman will be the first game Mark plays in since.
“Personally, it’s going to be emotional for me,” Walton said on Wednesday. “That’s the first game my mom won’t see, so it’s going to be emotional for me, but I am just looking forward to playing with my teammates, with whom I play every day, because we’ll go against another opponent.”
Walton’s mother was thankfully able to meet her grandchild last February before her sudden passing. Her son is filled with motivation for another excellent season.
“I’m getting emotional just thinking about it and it’s going to be tough,” Walton said, “but I’ve got a game to play and there’s nothing to do about it. I am just looking forward to play.”
Walton is Miami’s featured running back. He rushed for 1,117 yards with fourteen touchdowns last season. He was named team MVP for 2016.
This year, as a junior, Walton could be an even bigger part of the offense. With a first year starting quarterback in Malik Rosier, the ‘Canes will likely lean heavily on Walton and the running game to set the tone. He averaged a stellar 5.3 yards per carry in 2016.
On Wednesday, Walton shared his thoughts on Rosier, who officially won the starting quarterback job last week.
“Malik is doing well,” noted Walton. He’s trying to be more of a vocal leader and trying to push everybody. He’s not let [winning the starting job] get to his head and I’m proud of him. I think he’s the right guy and he knows what it takes.”
The Hurricanes host the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats Saturday at 12:30 PM from Hard Rock Stadium. You can hear the game on 560 WQAM, with coverage starting at 8:00 AM.