The Falcons have a history of recruitin' close to home, with several of the best players in team history (Jessie Tuggle, Keith Brooking, Billy Lothridge, and so forth) being former state college stars.
That tradition has died out as of late; GM Thomas Dimitroff has often headed west for talent, drafting five Big 12 players, four from the Pac 10, and four from smaller left coast schools. The most recent Dawgs, quarterback D.J. Shockley and halfback Thomas Brown, never made much of an impact.
The team's only remaining local scholar is Vance Walker, a third-team All-American defensive tackle at Georgia Tech who says the word "whatnot" a lot and is very pleasant. I had an opportunity to holler at Vance:
JK: You're practicing with the Patriots this week. Have you had a chance to hang out with former Tech teammates Gary Guyton and Darryl Richard?
VW: No, I haven't. With practice and everything, we're on strict lockdown regimens, so, you know, no time really to hang out with those guys. But as soon as I have a chance, I'm gonna have a good time with them. I don't know what they'll do after the preseason game, but it's always nice to see old teammates.
JK: With Corey Peters and Peria Jerry joining the defensive tackle rotation, how do you feel that will affect your snap totals?
VW: I don't really think about my snaps. Peria is really practicing at full speed now. Whatever they need him to do, I understand. We've all been getting a lot of reps, especially in games, with the rotation that we have. So I don't really think about my snaps, I just think about what I can do to help the team, whether it's first down, third down, or whatever.
JK: Have you been keeping up with Tech this year?
VW: I have. Not as close as I would like, just because I've been busy in the playbook, but I've been following them quite a bit. I'll probably follow them a lot more once the season starts.
JK: What do you think about Tech's switch to the 3-4?
VW: Oh, I think it's brilliant. I was talking to one of my old teammates, Anthony Egbuniwe, and we joked about how our last year it was me, Darryl Richard, Michael Johnson, and Derrick Morgan. We would've been unstoppable in the 3-4. It would've been amazing. I feel like they got a great system.
JK: Do you think the 3-4 will help with Tech's traditional difficulty at recruiting defensive tackles? Obviously they're able to get guys like you and Richard, but there haven't been a whole lot of other greats.
VW: I don't know much about recruiting. It's really not so much about recruiting. It's really about finding guys who want to play. Regardless I think it's a great system, and anybody would want to play in that system, whether it's nose tackle or 4-technique end.
JK: Speaking of recruiting, what do you think about your former coach Chan Gailey going to Buffalo?
VW: It's a great fit. I've always admired Chan Gailey. He was a great coach while I was there at Georgia Tech. He's just a great person, and I think it's good that he's got the job at Buffalo.
JK: You played a lot in the Saints game last year. Are you looking forward to getting another chance at them?
VW: Oh yeah, that Monday night game was my first game in the NFL. Big game. It was awesome. Just a great atmosphere. I'm looking forward to them, the Panthers, Tampa Bay... every team. But it's always about the atmosphere with the Saints, whether it's here in Atlanta or there in New Orleans.
JK: One last question for you. At The Falcoholic, our nickname for you is VW Bug. Bug like Yellow Jacket. How do you feel about that?
VW: Uhhhh, I like it. It's creative. The bug is kinda new. I'm used to just V-Dub. It might grow on me.
JK: Think about it. Thanks a lot, Vance.
Here's hoping Vance Walker finds a place on the Falcons' roster for years to come.