Kansas City Chiefs Draft Walker Alum

Hunter Nourzad, a 2018 alum of The Walker School and offensive lineman, was selected in the fifth round of last weekend’s NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, winners of three of the past four Super Bowls. 

“I still don’t think I’ve wrapped my head around it. It’s just crazy,” Nourzad said. “Of course people know the Super Bowls and the star players, but when you get more into the Kansas City offensive line, they have extremely talented veterans. I think it’s a really good situation for me to go into and learn.”

Nourzad has played on the offensive line his entire college career. After playing lacrosse and football at Walker, he looked for a school where he could further his education and play football. He mostly was recruited by small colleges in the South and Ivy League schools. 

“I knew that I wanted to do engineering, so it came down to Cornell and Columbia, but I knew I didn’t want to go to school in New York City, so I chose Cornell,” he said. “And after I went for a visit I liked it.” 

He played offensive tackle at Cornell, where he graduated with a degree in engineering. In the spring before his senior year, Nourzad said NFL scouts started coming around. 

“That had never happened before at Cornell,” he said. “I knew talking to coaches that I could go to the next level, but they were all interested in me playing center or guard, and I had only played tackle. I didn’t want to make the jump from playing tackle in the Ivy Leagues to trying to play center or guard in the NFL. It felt too big for me, so I wanted to take an intermediate step and also try to get a master's degree in something.”

Nourzad entered the transfer portal and received a lot of attention, eventually narrowing his choices to Auburn, Illinois, Iowa and Penn State. He chose Penn State because it was close to Cornell, where he was finishing his undergraduate degree, and he could get a head start on meeting the coaches and players in the spring. 

He also chose Penn State because “the playing environment there is unmatched. So everything pointed to Penn State.” He earned a master’s in business while playing eight games as a left guard two seasons ago and as the starting center last season for the Nittany Lions. 

Unfortunately, Nourzad was battling a stress fracture in his fibula during the NFL combine and pre-draft process, but that didn’t dissuade the Chiefs from picking him. He was so surprised the Chiefs called him that Reid asked him if he was excited. 

“He said ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ He asked if I was excited. There’s a video on the Chiefs Instagram I think where they have some of the audio from the call and I sound really monotone and not excited, and he asked ‘Are you excited?’ And I said yes, I’m very excited.” 

I was shaking and trying not to cry while we were talking, so I wasn’t lively or anything, but I was really, really excited. He said we have rookie minicamp coming up this next week so “make sure you’re in shape. Make sure you run.”

That’s what brought Nourzad back to the Walker campus this week. 

When asked about his time at Walker, Nourzad said: “I still have really good friends from my time here. It’s a very academically focused school, so a lot of the skills you learn to succeed academically can cross over athletically. The skills I learned really allowed me to mature and grow as a college student and carry those things through my time at Cornell and Penn State.

“Obviously the skills have grown and matured, but it has set up a really good base for me to find success at the next level.” 

Nourzad came to Walker in fifth grade and played football, swam and wrestled in Middle School. He focused on football and lacrosse in Upper School and said being a multisport athlete helped him excel at football.

“I think it’s important to do multiple sports. I really liked lacrosse and wanted to play and the same with football,” he said. “Looking back, you realize when you focus on one sport, you really lose different skills that you could learn from other sports that could transfer into the sport you’re really focused on.”

As for his future in the NFL, Nourzad knows nothing is guaranteed and said he has always tried to focus on what he can control.

“They have a really talented interior line right now, so I just want to try to find where I can help the team the most, whether it’s left guard, center or right guard. Whatever capacity it is,” he said.
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The Walker School is a private, co-ed day school offering opportunities in academics, arts, and athletics for preschool, elementary, middle, and high school students in Metro Atlanta.