ORLANDO -- After his official visit this fall Deion Walker said Notre Dame did not offer the greatest campus atmosphere out of his final interest schools which included Penn State, NC State, Texas Tech and USC, but there was never a doubt about the strong relationship he had built with head coach Charlie Weis and the undeniable importance the polished Walker placed on higher education.
"The value of Notre Dame's academics is excellent, and I have developed a strong relationship with Charlie Weis," said Walker. "He is just a cool guy and really put in a lot of effort calling and recruiting me personally."
From a football and receiving standpoint, Walker felt there would be no better mentor than the three-time Super Bowl winning offensive coordinator.
"He is an offensive-minded coach who knows the game and how to get the ball to his wide receivers. Coach sees me as a receiver who can play in the slot and also split out wide.
"He said I have the green light to come in and challenge for a starting job."
We agree with Weis' assessment of the Virginia prep standout and feel Walker possesses the elite receiving skills and elusiveness needed to become a much needed playmaker for the anemic Fighting Irish offense. ESPN's No. 8-rated receiver prospect is tall with a long, rangy body and is very smooth in all of his movements. Walker displays very soft hands and precise route running skills with a good burst out of his breaks for a taller receiver.
Before injuring his knee in one of the early practices this week, the No. 34-rated prospect in the ESPN 150 also showed the ability to use his hands and get off the jam -- an area of concern at the next level.
However, we did notice this week Walker is very slight without pads on and upper-body strength will still be his main area of improvement in South Bend. To become a complete college player and remain durable going over the middle while continuing to beat the jam and win the body positioning battle on the jump ball, Walker will need to attack the Fighting Irish weight-training program and add some much needed bulk and strength.
Despite losing highly-touted Under Armour All-American defensive tackle Omar Hunter (Buford, Ga.) this week, Notre Dame still has a very impressive class coming in next fall. Walker should team up with fellow Irish commit Mike Floyd (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall) to make one of the better freshman receiver duos in the country. Walker is Notre Dame's ninth ESPN 150 member in a class with 22 solid players from top to bottom. Currently ranked No. 2 in our latest class rankings, a disappointing 2007 season does not appear to be deterring many of the country's elite prospects.
"They have a great tradition of winning, that's all that matters. I did not think too much about their disappointing season. We will turn it around," said Walker.
Billy Tucker is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. and has close to a decade of coaching experience at the college and high school level. Tucker has served as a recruiting coordinator for two nationally ranked Division II colleges. Most recently, he was the associate head coach and defensive coordinator for Merrimack College, which advanced to the Sweet 16 in the 2006 NCAA Division II playoffs.