RECRUITING 2002: RB Jimtavis Walker

News on the recruiting front has slowed to a crawl as the remaining prospects attempt to reach a final decision. One prospect the Tide staff is anxiously awaiting word on is running back Jimtavis Walker. Currently, Walker is committed to Florida but he has placed his original decision under review. Understanding the decision could lend some insight to the outcome and <i>Bamamag.com</i> takes a look at three important factors.

Walker, a 5-foot-11, 195-pounder from Statesboro, Georgia, rushed for nearly 2,000 yards as a prep senior. Several programs recruited Walker but Alabama and Florida emerged as the finalists with the Gators leading by a very thin margin. The three major factors in Walker's decision consist of the offense, other running back prospects, and the NCAA verdict.

Alabama employs a multiple offense that includes a strong running game. Florida was a pass first offense under former head coach Steve Spurrier and new head coach Ron Zook offered his intentions to the Gator faithful during his initial press conference.

"We are going to be an attacking offense," Zook said. "We are going to be an offense that makes things happen. We are going to throw the football around the ballpark, and we're going to score a lot of points. That is my style and my personality."

Alabama led the Southeastern Conference in rushing and future plans include a more productive passing game to complement the running game. Consequently, running backs see the balance in the future offense as being attractive to all of the skill positions, but especially their own.

"I know Alabama will run the ball more than Florida and it's starting to take a toll on my final decision," said Walker.

Florida has commitments from running backs Ciatrick Faison and Deshawn Wynn, while Alabama has a commitment from Kenneth Darby. There is a discrepancy in the projected position of Wynn in the words of those involved in the process. Ken Minor, Wynn's head coach at Reading High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, says Wynn will definitely play running back for the Gators.

"Deshawn is a running back all the way and that's what Coach Zook recruited him as," said Minor. "In fact, Coach Zook is looking for a 250-pound fullback."

The discrepancy relates to recent media interviews with Walker. In those interviews, Walker's perception of Wynn's projected position was significantly different than Coach Minor's.

"Coach Zook told me they plan on using Wynn as a fullback," said Walker.

The final factor in Walker's decision is the NCAA's verdict on allegations which occurred before the current staff was hired. Reliable sources expect the verdict to be known within the next 48 hours and the results could have a direct impact on Walker's decision.

"I'm hoping Alabama will hear something before I make my decision later this week," said Walker. "It could affect my decision if the penalties aren't too bad."


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