Florida Prep Down to Two, Which Includes IU

The state of Florida has been a productive recruiting target for Coach Terry Hoeppner's staff in each of the past two seasons, and the Hoosiers are one of two finalists for another talented tailback from the Sunshine State...

A decision is coming soon for Florida prep tailback Zach Walker.

The 5-8, 176-pound tailback from Plantation, Fla., has whittled his list to Indiana and Northwestern and he's hoping to make a decision this week. "I want to get it out of the way as soon as possible," Walker said. "It's one of the toughest decisions and things I've gone through in my life."

Walker is coming off a junior season that included seemingly-modest totals 409 yards on 79 carries and a pair of touchdowns. Of course, that's due in large part to the fact he played in only five games, as his high school season was cut short due to the damage from Hurricane Wilma, a category 3 storm that roared over the city of Plantation and south Florida's Broward County last October.

While his season was cut short by the storm, that hasn't kept college programs from taking notice of his skills. In addition to Northwestern and Indiana, Illinois also had him on campus for camp this summer. But with a decision seemingly coming any day, it's Indiana and Northwestern that are battling for his services.

Indiana first showed interest in Walker during the spring evaluation period, when IU Assistant Coach Matt Canada went to Florida and saw Walker first hand. Since that time Canada and the IU coaching staff has stayed in close contact with the fleet-footed runner, culminating in a trip to Bloomington last weekend for IU's summer football camp.

It was a trip that Walker said he loved, but one he admits he had some trepidation about early on.

"We flew into Indianapolis and drove about 45 or 50 minutes into Bloomington, and on the way I was like, ‘Oh my gosh,'" Walker said. "I saw cornfields on the left, right, front and back. I didn't know what to think. But once I got to Bloomington, I changed my tune completely. It is a great college town. Everything there was all about IU. It was a surprise – a pleasant surprise."

While this was Walker's first trip to town, he had been well briefed on what to expect once he arrived. A friend from back home, Cameron Jones, has enrolled at IU and will arrive this fall to compete with IU's track team. In addition, Jones' step-mother is an IU alum and spoke highly of her time in Bloomington.

"She was a Hoosier, and she kept saying, ‘you have to go to their camp, you have to go to their camp,'" Walker said. "So I went and I loved the campus, I loved the coaching staff. It was a good trip – a really good trip."

Walker said he was able to spend plenty of time with not only his recruiting coach Canada, but also IU running backs coach Gerald Brown as well as IU Head Coach Terry Hoeppner. In fact, his camp experience gave him a chance to meet just about everyone on the IU staff.

"A lot of times at camps it's like cattle drives, where it's go do this, do that, go over here," Walker said. "But this was really smooth, really intimate with the coaches, and Coach Hoeppner was great. I got a really good feeling when I was there."

Adding to the weekend's events was the fact Indiana officially extended a scholarship offer to the tailback. Walker figured there was a good chance he'd be offered while he was in town, but with that formality out of the way he said he can now turn his attention to making his final choice.

He said ultimately, that decision will come down to weighing the pros and the cons of the two Big Ten schools, coupled with how he felt with the people around the program.

"I have to make my decision based on the people and who I'm gong to be playing for and who I'm going to be spending these four years with," Walker said. "That's why it boils down to just these two. I love both coaching staffs. Indiana gave me a really good feeling, and the same at Northwestern."

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