sees being a run-on as an incredible opportunity. But maybe more importantly, the 6-foot, 195-pound slot back feels the school he committed to feels the same way about him, and views him as an important member of its incoming class.
With that in mind, the Central Mountain High (Mill Hall, Pa.) product will be staying close to home next summer. He committed to Penn State as a run-on for the Class of 2013.
“I'm proud to be a walk-on, it's a great opportunity,” Walker said. “I'd rather go to Penn State as a walk-on then go somewhere else as a scholarship player at a Division II or Division III school. It's not the same as Penn State and everything it has to offer. How are you going to pass up an opportunity like that?”
Walker ran for 1,000 yards and passed for nearly 1,500 last fall for Central Mountain, which lost in the District 6-9 playoffs in the opening round against State College. He has no plans on getting under center for the Nittany Lions, though. He'll get a crack in a slot-back type role once under Bill O'Brien's tutelage.
“I definitely feel comfortable with the ball in my hands, and I was pretty happy my recruiting coach, Coach [Mac] McWhorter, and the other coaches felt the same way,” Walker said. “I hold myself to a very high standard when it comes to sports, and I can get a lot better in the weight room by getting bigger, faster and stronger. I feel as if I have strong vision on the field to find open spaces, and while I'm happy with it, I want to keep improving my speed, too.”
The senior, who was most recently timed with a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, is also familiar with some of the other potential Nittany Lion run-on candidates, including Mifflin County High (Lewistown, Pa.) offensive lineman Derek Yode and fellow trenchman Justin Norman from Jersey Shore High (Jersey Shore, Pa.).
“I know some of these guys from playing against them and just different things, so I've seen them play before and know them. They are great kids,” Walker said. “I'm ready to become a lot closer with either those guys or whoever else joins the team, and just get things started.”
“A good day,” was the way Walker described his Sunday voyage to State College, where O'Brien and company hosted a “run-on day,” but it wasn't his first trip to his future school. Aside from in-season unofficial visits as a recruit, he's also made the short drive a variety of other times in his life.
“I started hearing from Penn State my junior year, but it was this year that it really picked up, and they asked me to come in for a meeting this fall,” Walker said. “We really weren't sure what to expect, but we thought there would be a lot of other recruits there. But when we went there, it was just Coach O'Brien, Coach McWhorter, and my mom and dad. We all sat down, and it only took about an hour for him to tell me what they wanted to do with me. I'm pretty much in love with the program growing up so close, so it just felt perfect.”
And though it will be a few months before he gets on campus for good, Walker thinks the setting of State College and the university itself will be perfect for his next four years, too.
“It's really amazing, because everyone is always like, 'Where's the scholarship?' But at Penn State, it's different,” Walker said. “If you aren't a scholarship player, they don't look down on you. Matt McGloin has proven a walk-on can do it, and I feel like at Penn State it's such a tight knit family, and everyone looks out for each other and is a part of the team.
“I can't even tell you how many games I've been to, but the student section is incredible, the community is behind the teams, and the coaches are amazing,” he added. “Coach Mac is great, and I really like that Coach O'Brien is a great guy and always confident in what he's talking about.”
Local standout was on campus Sunday and the trip only reaffirmed his commitment to the Nittany Lion program.
Local standout was on campus Sunday and the trip only reaffirmed his Nittany Lion commitment.