We caught up with Jets cornerback Darrin Walls this week in the locker room. No. 27 talked with us about his Christmas, Sunday's performance against San Diego, and his alma mater, No. 1 Notre Dame, gearing up to face No. 2 Alabama Jan. 7 in the BCS National Championship game.
How was your Christmas? Did you get to spend it with family?
My parents came up on Saturday and they spent Saturday and Sunday with me. They got to go to the game. They left Monday. Then I spent Christmas pretty much alone, but I had them here so it was pretty cool.
Now you're from Pittsburgh, so they're not too far away, right?
No. Probably a 5-, 5½-hour drive.
Is it tough not being able to go spend Christmas with them at home?
I'm kind of used to it. Being in college, my parents came to every game, so it was pretty cool. Being in Atlanta, when I was in Atlanta last year, they came to a game. It's difficult not seeing your family, but it's always good when you do see them.
Was Sunday their first Jets game?
Yeah, it was their first game.
I know the result wasn't what you guys wanted, but what'd they think of the stadium?
They liked it. They're Steelers fans and they grew up in Pittsburgh, so it's a different atmosphere for them. But any team I'm a part of they're fans of. They enjoyed themselves and had a good time. The outcome wasn't what it was, but they enjoyed seeing me play.
You had a few pass deflections Sunday and played 36 percent of the defensive plays. How'd you think it went for you?
Well, for me, I'm a backup and I accept my role. I just have to be ready whenever they call me. When I'm out there, I just try to be 1/11th of our defense and DT [Dennis Thurman] and Coach Pet [Mike Pettine], they put me in good positions to make plays and I just try to go out there and do my job.
Was it good to get that playing time, because it seemed like it was the most you'd had with the Jets?
Yeah, this was the most I probably had since a preseason game and probably the most meaningful game I played in. I mean, we weren't playing for the playoffs or anything, but it was meaningful snaps with the first defense. I just try to go out there and not disappoint anyone. Go out there and do the best I can do.
You were called up to the active roster a little over a month ago. What's changed this past month compared to when you were on the practice squad?
I just think it comes with more responsibility. You have to be more of a pro. You're already a pro and you're not active, but when you're active, you have to be on top of it because you can get called upon at any moment. You've got to be ready to go out there and perform. I just try to be as professional as I can and I try to learn every defense and help out on special teams. They put me out there or whatever they want me to do, I'll try to do it for them.
That must have been cool to play on Monday night against the Titans.
It was. I played in a Thursday night game last year. I think it was against Jacksonville when I was with the Falcons. I think the Monday night atmosphere was great, but I didn't care for Nashville and the music there. But Jacksonville was pretty cool. It was a tight game a little bit.
Were they playing a lot of country music in Nashville?
Yeah, in the beginning we couldn't get into it. But it ended up being all right.
Who would you say has become your closest friend on the team?
AB, Aaron Berry is from my area, so I've known him since before I even got here.
He went to Pittsburgh. So did you know each other in college?
Yeah, we were recruited together to go to Pitt.
How is it to be on a professional team with a guy you've known for quite some time?
It's nice because he was in Detroit last year or two years ago and then I played against him in Detroit last year. But yeah, it's good knowing someone on the team. When I first got here, he came in around the same time.
Did you guys keep in contact before you got here?
Yeah we talked all the time. Pretty much all the DB's I'm pretty much cool with.
I read that you went to the same high school as former Jet Jason Taylor, Woodland Hills in Pittsburgh. Have you ever had the pleasure of meeting him?
I haven't met Jason yet. A couple of years ago, we had the most guys in the NFL from my high school. Steve Breaston, he plays with Kansas City, Ryan Mundy [Pittsburgh Steelers safety], Jason Taylor like you said. We had a few. But I haven't met Jason yet. He actually lives right down the street from my parents and I went to school with his sisters. But I've heard a lot of good things about him. My high school coach always talked about him.
What about some hobbies away from football?
Pretty much sleep [laughing] and PlayStation. I'm big into PlayStation. I play a lot of PlayStation.
Do you have a favorite game?
Is it neat to play a game that you're actually in?
It started in college. My [younger] brother is a big game-console guy. He used to play with me all the time when I was at Notre Dame. I never played myself.
Do you have the upper hand on him?
Yeah. He's pretty good, though, for his age at 14. But I use the Jets a lot of times and I put myself in there and it's pretty cool seeing me out there.
Your alma mater, Notre Dame, is playing for the national championship. How impressed have you been with the season they've produced?
I think Coach [Brian] Kelly has done a great job. My first year with him we went 8-5, but we could have easily won all our games. He's changed the program around. I think the coaching staff that he has with them, they're pretty smart. It's impressive to see them go through that schedule.
So it hasn't really surprised you that they've had this type of year?
Honestly I thought we would lose a few games. I thought we would be close to a BCS game, but I never thought we would go undefeated and win a national championship. I'm really not that surprised, because Coach Kelly told me he'll get a national championship when he gets to Notre Dame and I believed him. I thought we could have done it my year, but we had some losses we shouldn't have lost. But yeah, I'm excited for them. I'm still pretty cool with all the guys on the team.
Have you and Greg McElroy, who won a national title with Alabama, talked a little trash about the game?
Yeah, we have. We're both going to the game. I'll see him down there.
Oh, we'll win.
Is it going to be close?
It'll be a close game. Both teams are going to run the ball. Notre Dame will pull it out, though.