DeMaria Walters still had hunger for football.
After a heartbreaking loss in the national championship game with Benedictine, the standout safety still had plans to continue his playing career at a professional level.
Unfortunately for Walters, the opportunity seemed to have passed him by at first.
“I kind struck out on getting into a pro day, even though I really exerted all my options,” Walters said. “I got online and kind of promoted myself more, on like social media.”
Walters eventually found a potential playing opportunity in March from a site called europlayers.com, which is a website that helps American football players get noticed by European teams.
“In about two and half months I got a message from a team in Germany to play there,” Walters said. “I was considering it but I took too long.”
Fortunately, another chance was shortly presented to Walters.
“So I was kind of down and out and I didn’t know what I was going to do next,” Walters said. “About a week later I got a message asking if I’d be interested in playing football in Turkey.”
The call was from the Istanbul Technical University Hornets, who gave Walters only 12 hours to mull over the contract and decide.
“It was a pretty quick turn around with signing on a Tuesday and leaving the country on a Friday,” Walters said.
Walters was one of three Americans on the team, and only two of them could be on the field at a time.
With Turkish commonly spoken in the country, Walters had to adjust to communicating on the field with teammates in an entirely new language.
“It kind of helps with improving your communication and coaching of other players,” the former Raven said. “You have to learn how to say things in different ways and be patient.”
Walters said the adjustment did present some challenges on the field when communicating.
“A lot of times I’d be talking in regular English on the field and the guys would look at me like, ‘What are you talking about?’” Walters said.
Walters eventually acclimated himself to the language enough to achieve success on the field.
The safety recorded four interceptions, 11 pass break ups, 47 tackles, two punt returns for touchdowns and help lead the Hornets to the playoffs.
Walters encourages other players who don’t get the shot at the professional ranks they want to give Europe a try.
“It was one of the best experiences of my life so far,” Walters said. “You just learn about an entirely different culture and get more film for scouts to see of you.”
Walters has now set his sights to the XFL, which is expected to relaunch in February the weekend after the Super Bowl.
Walters will compete in a showcase at the end of September in Atlanta that will consist of workouts, padded practices and scrimmages.
All the XFL scouts will be on hand to evaluate talent and Walters hopes to impress on the field.
“I feel like I excel at on the field play rather than my combine numbers,” Walters said. “I’m training as much as possible right now.”
The XFL will hold its draft in October with a specific date not announced at this time.