Hawaii announced its 2016 recruiting class on Feb. 3, but one commitment was not made until after the class was revealed. That is because Ricky Walker III, athlete of San Leandro (Calif.), had not been offered a scholarship by UH until later that day.
Walker had interest growing from multiple schools and went into the day intending to wait beyond National Signing Day. Most recruits had wrapped up their ceremonies when Walker received the big call from UH around 3 p.m. PT.
“I could’ve signed (somewhere) that day, but I wanted to wait it out,” Walker said. “I was thinking since my phone was ringing a lot and things were happening, I thought things were going to happen even more after signing day so I was going to wait it out. But then I got that call that day from Hawaii. It was crazy. To get that offer on signing day, it really made me think if I should take the offer right then. I didn’t have to, but talking with my parents, it was a good opportunity.
“It’s a good feeling,” Walker added. “I’ve worked real hard to get where I am now. To get to college ball and get my tuition paid for is a good feeling.”
Walker played his senior season as a quarterback, but will start out as a receiver in Hawaii’s offense. The recruiting process for Walker started slow as he transferred to San Leandro High School from Bishop O’Dowd between his sophomore and junior years. It was not until after his senior season that interest grew, but the select schools were unsure of where he would fit.
“I played running back my junior year,” Walker said. “My senior year, our quarterback transferred and we didn’t have a quarterback. In our offense, the best athlete goes to quarterback. So what my coach told me was that playing quarterback would still allow me to showcase my running ability.
"We had a lot of designed runs and I was able to scramble a lot. The problem was a lot of people still didn’t know where to put me because I was a quarterback on my film… I was being recruited as a DB, running back, wide receiver, pretty much everything.”
He expects a smooth transition to the wide receiver position at the next level, however. The move worked well for the last San Leandro quarterback in his shoes, Stephen Johnson who played WR for the UCLA Bruins as a true freshman this past year.
“It’ll be something different,” Walker said. “I haven’t played wideout in high school. It shouldn’t be hard because I can play it all. My route running is pretty good and I can catch. It shouldn’t be that hard of a transition because I’ve been doing all this stuff since I was young. When I was a running back, I worked to be dynamic as possible.”
The majority of his recruitment came after his senior year when Columbia and San Diego began recruiting him. Soon after, UC Davis and Cal Poly offered him scholarships. However, he didn’t have an FBS offer until Hawaii made the signing day call. Walker had visited UH the weekend before signing day in hopes that the offer would eventually come.
“First of all, the islands are beautiful,” Walker said. “It’s like 80 degrees everyday and the sun is out. It’s super nice and if you go to Hawaii you just fall in love with it. The coaching staff, this is their first recruiting class, but I feel like the coach Rolovich is a really good guy. Being up in Hawaii is like a brotherhood and a family. Coach (Hynson) fought hard for me to get up there. That made me feel like I was wanted up there.”
The visit also opened up Walker to a variety of educational options, and a potential major that very few 2016 recruits around the nation will likely pursue.
“They offer astronomy, I was thinking about majoring in astronomy and not a lot of schools have that,” Walker said. “Being on the islands, you have a good chance to get away from all the light pollution and see the stars. I’ve been interested in that for a while. They offer a lot of cool things, for example marine biology. School wise, they have a lot that other schools don’t.”
Before Walker makes it to the Hawaiian Islands, he is currently competing in track. He is running the 60 and 200 meters currently in the indoor circuit and will add the 4x1 to the outdoor season.
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