By Logan Wilson
Special To The Arkansas News Bureau
FAYETTEVILLE — Former Arkansas catcher Brian Walker has earned a full-time assistant coach position, but not at his alma mater.
Walker has joined Todd Butler at Wichita State, becoming the team’s second full-time assistant coach, the Shockers announced Friday. He joins Brent Kemenitz, who has spent the last 35 years as the pitching coach at Wichita State and was retained despite the firing of longtime head coach Gene Stephenson.
Walker spent the last three years, one as a graduate assistant and two as a volunteer assistant, coaching at Arkansas. The Tulsa, Okla., native was a three-year letterman for the Razorbacks, as well.
"We are excited to come to a conclusion with our Shocker coaching staff," Butler said. "Brian Walker will bring vast knowledge to the Shocker baseball program. As a player and coach in college with one trip to Omaha (2012) and the Anaheim Angels organization Triple-A experience at the professional level, he has played and coached at the highest levels.
"While coaching Brian as a player and coaching alongside him daily, I know that he understands the system which we will bring to our Shocker players. Brian is a fantastic coach and person on and off the field. I do know that Brian is excited to develop and build our Shocker players to great heights and that he understands the demands and work load involved carrying on the great rich tradition of Wichita State Shocker baseball."
At Wichita State, Walker will be responsible for hitting, recruiting, coaching catchers and being the third base coach.
"My family and I are blessed at the opportunity to become a part of the Shocker family," Walker said. "This opportunity to be a part of such a great tradition with such storied success is an honor for us. Being a player for coach Butler and also coaching with him the last three years has allowed me the opportunity to understand his vision for success. Understanding coach Butler’s desire and work ethic will allow us to practice efficiently and effectively in motivating our student-athletes to succeed at a high level.
"I am thankful to be a part of such an experienced coaching staff and look forward to working alongside coach Kemnitz and learning from him and his wealth of knowledge. The future is bright and exciting times are to come. With energy, enthusiasm, and hard work, we can carry on the success of the great Shocker program."
Last year, Walker served as the Razorbacks’ third base coach and mentored Arkansas catcher Jake Wise during the last two seasons. Wise did not commit an error in 438 chances and gunned down 17 base runners attempting to steal in the Razorbacks’ run to the 2012 College World Series.
In 2013, Wise committed just four errors and threw out 20 would-be base stealers.
Walker also mentored James McCann for one season. McCann posted a .306 batting average, hit six home runs and drove in 38 runs in Walker’s first season on staff at Arkansas. He also posted a .992 fielding percentage and threw out 20 potential base stealers. McCann was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the second round of the 2011 MLB Draft.
Before Walker coached at Arkansas, he spent four years with the Anaheim Angels’ organization, making it to the Angels’ Triple-A squad in 2010 before deciding to pursue his coaching career.
As a catcher at Arkansas, Walker played in 164 games and hit .260 with 26 home runs and 98 RBIs in his career. He also managed a .996 fielding percentage during his three-year career with the Razorbacks, committing just five errors at Arkansas. Some of the pitchers for which he caught include first-round draft pick Nick Schmidt, who struck out 345 batters to become the Razorbacks’ all-time strikeouts leader, and Jess Todd and Duke Welker, who have both made appearances for MLB teams.