Auburn-South Carolina Battle For Walton

Former Penn State commitment Jonathan Walton discusses his visit to Auburn over the weekend and what has the Tigers in his final two schools.

Daphne, Ala.—A previous commitment to Penn State, big athlete Jonathan Walton from Bayside Academy got an offer from the Auburn Tigers earlier this month and over the weekend took an official visit to check out Gus Malzahn's program. Spending time talking with Malzahn, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and the rest of the staff, Walton says he enjoyed his time spent on the Plains.

"I had a good time and met the new coaching staff," Walton says. "I got along with the players and had a good time. I went up there thinking one thing and completely got another. I came in with South Carolina leading and I'm leaving with something I'm trying to balance out now.

"It (Auburn) changed me a lot," he adds. "I'm thinking about it. I had a decision, but I can't say I have one now. I'm going to think about that and see what comes up. It's between Auburn and South Carolina. I'm going to try to make my choice sometime this week."

As a senior at Bayside, Walton made 122 tackles on defense, but it was his play on offense that caught the attention of Malzahn and the Tigers. Rushing for 402 yards on just 41 carries, he's a physical back that Auburn likes on that side of the football, but could also play defense if needed.

"I love him," Walton says of Malzahn. "He actually talked to me when he was at Arkansas State. He was trying to get me up there. He came to Auburn and still talked to me. That's actually who recruits me. I talk to him more than any other coach. We have a pretty strong bond. We had a good talk, not just about football but everything else.

"They went over what they want me to do at H-Back and went over what they want me to do at linebacker," he adds. "I feel comfortable doing both. They want me to see which one I feel comfortable at, but I don't mind. Coach Malzahn, it's his offense, I'm pretty sure I would play offense."

One of the coaches that Walton was already very familiar with from the new staff is of Dameyune Craig. A legend in the Mobile area after coming out of Blount High to star at Auburn, Craig's return to the Tigers as wide receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator has been huge for Walton.

"I relate to him a lot," Walton says of Craig. "He was down there exactly where I am, that Mobile area. We talk a lot. We have a lot in common. He knows what I'm going through and what I've been through. I can just talk to him. He's another person I can talk to, not just about football talk.

Now trying to decide between Auburn and South Carolina, Walton says that both schools have plenty of positives and that has made the decision a difficult one for him. He said playing time and the people around the program will be important, but he added distance could play a factor as well.

"They both have amazing coaching staffs," Walton says. "I just get a good vibe from them. I love the place and the setting of the place, the people, the fans and the support I have. That's what is making it hard to make a decision.

"Auburn is a little bit closer to home," he adds. "I can say that. That may factor into things for me."

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