Hamilton grad’s coaching journey takes him to Montana

2008 grad Tyler Walker recently was named offensive coordinator at Montana State

Tyler Walker just wanted to coach football at the collegiate level. So, he showed up to Miami RedHawks practices.

He showed up with persistence.

Volunteer would have to be his title for a little while, and the 2008 Hamilton High School graduate was OK with that.

“I kept going to Oxford. I kept going and going,” Walker recalled back in 2014. “Chuck Martin just came to Miami and had no clue who I was. He looked at me and said, ‘What the hell do you want?’

“I was just a good ole boy from Hamilton trying to get my foot in the door. That’s just what you do being from Hamilton, Ohio.”

While attending Miami to get a degree in special education, Walker donated his time that season before becoming a graduate assistant the following year.

“I just knew what I had to do.”

That’s when Walker met Taylor Housewright, who also was a graduate assistant at Miami.

Housewright went on to help coach for the next several years at Wittenberg, Mississippi State, Penn State, Wyoming and most recently Montana State.

Walker’s assistant coaching endeavors, on the other hand, later included stops at Davenport, Grand Rapids and Muskingum.

Housewright met Brent Vigen while at Wyoming before Vigen took the Montana State head coaching position in 2021.

And as Walker was getting the itch to move up in the college football coaching world, he got a call from Housewright.

“Taylor goes, ‘Hey, I’m getting ready to be hired as the offensive coordinator at Montana State. Do you want to come out here?’”

Walker had two responses.

“I’m the defensive coordinator at Muskingum. I just got done taking that job. So, I’m like, ‘Crap.’

“Second, ‘Where the hell is Bozeman, Montana?”

Housewright wanted Walker there.

“I think he knew something was up,” Walker said of Montana State’s gradual rise in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision rankings.

“He’d take care of the rest of the offense, while I’d be in charge of quarterbacks,” added Walker, who played QB for the Hamilton Big Blue and at Bethel University.

Walker was attracted to the fact that Vigen had won four straight national titles as an offensive coordinator at North Dakota State and recruited NFL star quarterbacks Josh Allen and Carson Wentz.

“I knew we were going to win,” Walker said.

But, first, he had to win someone over.

“You’ve lost your mind, bro. You’ve lost your freaking mind,” Walker remembered his then girlfriend, now wife, Aimee saying.

“But it felt right. So, I just said, ‘OK. I’m going to take a $20,000 pay cut, and we’re going to drive across the country.’”

So, they did.

Walker and the Bobcats played for a national title the very next season.

“We were the No. 1 team in the country.”

Hometown pride

Walker said the Hamilton Big Blue weren’t No. 1 when he was their QB1.

“That didn’t stop us from continuing to put the work in,” he stated.

Walker graduated from HHS and played a couple years for Bethel before coming back to help coach for Jim Place, Bob Jacoby and Chad Murphy.

He spent the next several years as an offensive assistant at Hamilton, where he grew an even greater passion for coaching.

“That’s when I said I wanted to coach college ball,” Walker said. “Hamilton instilled all of that in me. Being from Hamilton, I always felt like we had something to prove.

“I still to this day am super proud to be from there. It’s just a grit town, and people all have the same mindset and are just going to get to work and get their hands dirty. There’s always this giant chip on our shoulder that says we’re going to keep grinding and keep finding a way to get stuff done.”

That pride continued.

Pride turned into relationships, and relationships turned into success.

Success then turned into a serious commitment.

“Would I be here in Bozeman, Montana, if I didn’t take the path I did?” Walker questioned. “Probably not. ... If I were to ever have an opportunity to be a head coach, I know who I’m calling. I’m calling dudes that I know. I’m calling guys who I worked with.

“That’s why I was at Hamilton for years coaching high school football. It was because of the relationships I built.”

Eventually, Walker wanted more out of coaching.

Next opportunity

Walker just finished moving into his new home in Bozeman a little over two weeks ago.

He also received news in January that he was promoted to offensive coordinator at Montana State. Housewright planned on accepting the same position at Akron, which opened the opportunity for Walker.

Housewright has since taken a step back from coaching for personal reasons, but Walker is still calling the plays for the Bobcats — just in time to run the offense for spring practice.

“I’ve been busy,” Walker laughed. “But I wouldn’t want it any other way. When you get into it — it’s go, go, go. I get bored sitting around too much.

“People ask me if things are going to be run differently since I’m taking over the offense. I’ve coached 44 games here, I’ve been heavily involved, we’ve won a conference title, and we’ve played for a national title and been in the semis as the No. 1 offense in the country. Nothing is changing. We’ve got good players, and we’re going to keep trying to win football games.”

Walker said his coaching career has been a journey, and the connections he’s made along the way have been cherished.

“If I don’t know Taylor Housewright, I don’t know Brent Vigen,” he said. “If I don’t now Brent Vigen, I’m not here. Nobody gets to where you want to go without an army. A part of that army is the people in Hamilton and the people in Oxford — wherever I’ve been.”

Walker, who turns 35 in April, will soon be expanding his playbook as a father. He and his wife are expecting their second child.

“There are a lot of people who don’t make it because they just give up. They just don’t want to put the sacrifice into it,” Walker confided. “To be honest, I wake up every day knowing that I’m doing something that I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t do it. It’s my family. It’s my wife. It’s going to be my kids. They’re the ones who are sacrificing it all when I’m gone at the office.

“Is this the mountain top? No,” Walker added. “I want to be a head football coach. Do I want to eventually get back home or close to a six-hour radius of Hamilton? I want my kids to see their grandparents. My wife is from Cleveland. Yes, to all of that.

“But I do know that right now, I’m in a pretty good spot. I know that we have a really good opportunity to win some football games, and I’ll be calling the plays for the one of the best offenses in the country.”

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