Harding High School (Charlotte, N.C.) multipurpose athlete Walter Aikens was a bright spot in a very disappointing 3-8 season. Prior to the season, the head coach decided to step down, and the replacement fell behind in getting the word out on his talented star.
"The head coach from last year had to move back to his home town for family reasons. We had an assistant coach step up and become the head coach. I was getting out a little bit with recruiting thanks to my head coach, but it was a little slow this year to develop because the new coach didn't know where the old one left off. Once we got everything straight, schools starting pouring in."
Individually, however, Walt put up impressive numbers as a quarterback, receiver and defensive back.
"I had a pretty good season on both sides of the ball. I threw for 1500 yards and 15 TDs while rushing for 565 yards on 56 carries. As a wide receiver, I had 6 catches for 75 yards and 1 TD. Defensively, I had 6 interceptions, 40 tackles, 15 solo tackles, 2 forced fumbles and 1 interception return for 104 yards."
Despite the success Walt has had on both sides of the ball, Walt knows he must improve in certain areas.
"I'm a running quarterback. I make plays for myself and can move the ball up the field. I do pass pretty well, but I need to work on it. As a defensive back, I'm a ball hawk. I have the speed and everything, but I need to get my weight up."
With his film finally being circulated, a wide array of schools has become very interested in the 6'-1", 180 pound prospect.
"Illinois, North Carolina, Clemson, Western Carolina, Marshall, Winston-Salem State, Presbyterian, Duke, and Rhode Island along with a few others have shown interest. Only Winston-Salem State has officially offered." Does Walt have a favorite?
"I'm taking all of them into consideration, so I don't have a favorite school. I'm looking for whichever school fits my style and wherever I can come in and play right away."
With only a few months to go until signing day, Walt is narrowing down the schools he wants to visit officially.
"I haven't had any official visits yet. I took an unofficial to Duke. I hope to start taking visits around January to Illinois, Duke, Clemson, and maybe Marshall and Western Carolina."
Walt has excelled on both sides of the ball. As a result, he isn't sure if he wants to play quarterback or defensive back in college.
"It's still 50/50 right now. I don't know what position I want to play. If I can play both, I will. I'm still undecided."
Although not true for every Southern prospect, distance and weather can be big factors in the final decision for a college choice. Do weather and distance matter for Walt?
"Weather and distance aren't factors. I just wanna play ball. It's what I love to do. A school is a school. I don't care where I go as long as I can play football." Walt likes what he sees in Illinois and thinks he can help them become a winning program.
"They're coming up as a football team. They already have a good basketball team and the football program is coming up. They're just looking for new young talent, and that's me. It's a team I could come in and play for right away, something that I really like about them."