Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame’s Matt Walters Anchored Miami’s 2001 Perfect Season

By  //  August 6, 2012

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SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME

SPACE COAST DAILY TV: During that UM championship season, Matt Walters had 66 tackles eight tackles for a loss, 19 quarterback hurries, three sacks, one forced fumble and one interception for arguably the best defense in the history of NCAA football.

During that UM championship season, Matt Walters had 66 tackles eight tackles for a loss, 19 quarterback hurries, three sacks, one forced fumble and one interception for arguably the best defense in the history of NCAA football. (Space Coast Daily image)

MATT WALTERS – 2012 INDUCTEE

• National Champion

• Academic All-American

• Most Admired Player

UNDEFEATED NATIONAL CHAMPS

During his college and later pro football career, Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame inductee Matt Walters carried between 265 and 275 pounds on his 6-foot 5-inch frame.

Today, training as an amateur trialthete with professional triathlon coach and competitor, Ed Donner, his weight fluctuates between 210 and 215 pounds.

Competition both on and off the field has been a consistent driving force in Walters’ life.

MATT WALTERS, second from right, and his University of Miami teammates presents George W. Bush with an honorary jersey during their trip to the White House to be honored as the 2001 national champions. Walters, who is now an engineer for Northrop Grumman in Melbourne, finished his college career with 186 tackles, 24 tackles for a loss, 49 quarterback hurries, 13 sacks, two forced fumbles and one interception. He played 48 games, 27 of which he started. (GETTY IMAGES)

The 1998 graduate of Eau Gallie High School was a three-sport standout, including golf, basketball and football, but it was his prowess in football that opened the doors to an opportunity to attend college on an athletic scholarship.

Heavily recruited by Division I programs, he chose to venture only three hours from home to attend the University of Miami, where he distinguished himself academically, being named a 2002 First Team Verizon Academic All-American as well as winning the 2002 Big East Football Scholar-Athlete Award.

Walters, who majored in mechanical engineering at Miami and also was able to earn his master’s degree by attending summer school, was always a dedicated student who combined his strength, size and quickness with his intelligence to frequently be in the right place at the right time to make the play to turn a game around for the Hurricanes.

Walters intercepted a pass that proved to be the pivotal play for the ‘Canes in a critical win against Boston College on their way to their 2001 undefeated National Championship season.

That victory improved Miami’s record to 8-0 and the Hurricanes later defeated Virginia Tech 26-24 on the road to win the Atlantic Coast Conference title and a berth in the Rose Bowl to face Nebraska for the national championship.

Lead by a staunch defense anchored by Walters, Miami forged to a 34-0 lead at halftime and ended up winning 37-14 to clinch the school’s fifth national championship.

During that championship season, Walters had 66 tackles eight tackles for a loss, 19 quarterback hurries, three sacks, one forced fumble and one interception for arguably the best defense in the history of NCAA football.

As a senior in 2002, Walters had 64 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, 19 quarterback hurries and five sacks. The Hurricanes finished the regular season with a 12-0 record and extended their unbeaten streak to 34 games, but lost to Ohio State in the National Championship Fiesta Bowl game.

Walters, who is now an engineer for Northrop Grumman in Melbourne, finished his college career with 186 tackles, 24 tackles for a loss, 49 quarterback hurries, 13 sacks, two forced fumbles and one interception. He played 48 games, 27 of which he started.

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DALE MELCHING LEADERSHIP AWARD

Always a leader both on and off the field, throughout his four years at Miami he was one of the team’s most admired players and the winner of the 2001 Dale Melching Leadership Award, presented annually by the team to the player who represents all the qualities of leadership and work ethic they admire most.

Walters might still be playing in the NFL if it weren’t for a nagging injury sustained during his senior year with Miami. “I played through a groin injury as a senior,” said Walters, who was drafted in the fifth round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the New York Jets.

Unfortunately, the injury limited his play to only 11 games during the 2003 season.  Frustrated by not being able to give the 110% that had been his trademark all through high school and college, and physically not able to play at a competitive level, he reluctantly retired from the NFL.

THE 2018 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Banquet and Induction Ceremony will take place at the Cocoa Beach Country Club on Friday, May 18.

FOR INFORMATION about the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame call 321-615-8111 or e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com

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