There’s a good chance linebacker Jonathan Walton’s new son inherited the athletic genes of his Gamecock student-athlete parents.
Walton and his longtime girlfriend, Christine Watts, who is a former USC women’s soccer player, had their son Isiah in March.
Watts’ delivery occurred during the annual Garnet & Black Spring Game in which Walton was expected to participate. Since he couldn’t be in two places at once, the linebacker was caught in a bind choosing between the delivery and the game. But head coach Will Muschamp helped make the decision easier for him.
“I called coach Muschamp and I just didn't know what to do,” Walton said. “I was sad about missing the spring game. It was my last spring game, but Muschamp gave me the heads up, you know, support your family, be there for your family and that made the decision a lot easier for me."
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As he entered his senior season, the 6-foot, 230-pound native of Daphne, Ala., faced new responsibilities.
“I adapt quickly, but it’s still different,” Walton said. “I just have a little boy to think about before I do anything. I have them up here as much as possible and I go see them as much as possible.”
Walton hopes he can combine his two favorite things by getting his family involved with Gamecock football.
“He’s going to come to as many (games) as he can,” Walton said of his new son. “We’re going to get him some little earmuffs or something or (Watts) might just watch the game somewhere here outside the stadium, but he will definitely be around here.”
As for the sport and life balancing act Walton faces, he said he’s adjusted well to parenthood with the help of Watts. The native of Duluth, Ga., played soccer at USC as a midfielder and defender from 2009-2013 and played a season at Georgia Southern in 2011. While at USC, she was a part of the squad that reached the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen in 2009.
"Since my girlfriend played soccer here, she understood the athlete's side of this so she's very supportive of me,” Walton said. “I've been doing pretty good managing and squeezing out time to go see him and stuff, but she's been doing a good job taking care of him."
While Walton hopes to cherish his last season as a Gamecock, he knows he has to start preparing for life beyond USC football.
“Hopefully, I’m planning to go into the (NFL) Draft. If not, I’m a criminal justice major and planning to go into that field,” Walton said. “Our final goal is to beat the East, win the state, you know beat Clemson and win the East, so we’re going to start with that.”
Walton will miss this week’s game against UMass after having undergone an arthroscopic procedure on this knee, but he is expected to be ready in two weeks for the Tennessee game.