Introducing the 2005 Class: Keno Walter-White

Being an outstanding track star doesn't always translate into being a solid football player. However, cornerback Keno Walter-White proves that the two sports do indeed correlate with each other. In an interview with Devils Digest, the ASU junior transfer said that he's anxious to display his skills on the gridiron and on the track when he arrives in Tempe.

Keno Walter-White, a 5-11 175 cornerback from San Diego Mesa College, verbaled prior to the 2004 season to Washington. In turn, schools such as Arizona State, Auburn and Michigan State backed off and didn't continue to pursue him. However, the coaching change in the Huskies' ranks re-opened Walter-White's recruitment.

"After the coaches changed there I wasn't sure if that's where I want to go," he said. "When schools contacted me, I let them recruit me. Arizona State is just a school that stuck by me during the whole process and was always in my ear. They got to really know me and my family, and did a great job recruiting me." The cornerback also mentioned Oklahoma, Colorado State, and San Diego State as other programs that were vying for his services at that time.

ASU's wide receivers coach Daryl Jackson was doing most of the recruiting on behalf of the Sun Devils, and in pervious interviews Walter-White pointed to the bond he had with Jackson as a major reason for his decision to sign with ASU. "I just fell in love with the school during my recruiting trip," he recalled. "I got to know the coaches and the players, and the whole team felt like family to me. That was very important to me. I liked how they talked a lot about academics and not just football. I know a lot of people that are students at ASU…it was a great situation for me."

Another important factor in his decision was his conversation with outgoing corner and fellow speedster Chris McKenzie. "It was great talking to him, because we're real similar being JUCO cornerbacks," Walter-White stated. "He told me about the program and the transition from playing JUCO to playing in the Pac-10. He told me a lot of stuff that will help me in the future."

Following spring practice, offensive star Rudy Burgess decided to rekindle his love for Track and Field, and thus far has had a solid showing in the long jump and triple jump events. Walter-White who was clocked running a 10.5 in the 100 meters, high jumped seven feet, and measured close to 52 feet in the triple jump, is all but bound to follow suit. This isn't just to continue a stellar track career, but also to enhance his skills on the gridiron.

"Track gets a lot of your fast twitch muscles working and that helps you explode on the football field," said the cornerback who was an All-American in track in 2002. "You use your hips a lot when you high jump, and that helps me tackle on the field…I'd like to compete with Burgess on the track team." Walter-White added that he got invited to several meets overseas but had to decline so he can keep his athletic eligibility.

His accomplishments on the football field aren't far behind his track and field ones. He was listed as the fourth best JUCO cornerback by College Football news, and was named All-Foothill Conference in 2003 and 2004. True to the definition of a lock-down corner who doesn't get challenged much; Walter-White had two interceptions for Mesa last season. As the school's main kickoff returner, he had ten kickoff returns for 325 yards.

Athletic ability can only take you so far in the game of football. There are other intangibles that the cornerback is quite aware of, and some are unique to his position. "Some receivers will beat you, but you can make it up with good speed and footwork," he explained. "There's other stuff that's important like your vertical jump. But the most important thing is the mental game. You're playing corner so you will get beat a few times in a game. But you have to come back hard the next play and make a big hit or get an interception."

Walter-White will graduate with his AA degree at the end of the week, and will waste no time arriving in Tempe in the first few days of June so he can participate in both summer school and the team's conditioning program. Despite his raw athletic ability and his accolades the last few years, Walter-White is generally humble in nature. Nevertheless, he's confident that he can make his mark in 2005.

"I think that any school I went to, I would have the opportunity of seeing some playing time," he said. "I'm going with a positive attitude and hopefully my athletic ability will take over. I know I'm gonna play this season, I just don't know if I'll be a starter or not."

ASU's cornerback position will be by far the fiercest position battle this year. Don't be surprised if this is just one more track meet where Keno Walter-White will end up standing on the winner's podium.

Recruit Profile

Name

Keno Walter-White

Junior College

Mesa (San Diego, Calif.)

Position

CB

Height

5-11

Weight

178

Date of Birth

12/24/83

Birthplace

Shreveport, Louisiana

Nickname

"Everybody calls me Keno. Some people would call me by my real name which is Urkeno."

Favorite TV Show

"American Idol"

Favorite Movie

"Braveheart"

Favorite Singer/Band

"Tupac, but I also like Marvin Gaye a lot."

Favorite Food

"Southern Food"

Favorite Drink

"Vitamin Water"

Favorite Athlete

"Muhammad Ali"

Favorite Pro Team

"Dallas Cowboys"

Person you most admire

"My mom. She has come through a lot of hard times and adversity."

First Football Memory

"I had big hit in Pop Warner, recovered the fumble, and took it back for a touchdown. That got me hooked on football."

One Thing most people don't know about me

"I'm an All-American track athlete."

Why did you choose ASU?

"Good people and it felt like home."

Where do you want to be in ten years?

"Have my degree, have a family and be in the NFL. If the NFL doesn't work out I'd like to be a motivational speaker."

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