Cincinnati, Ohio -- Wayne (N.J.) DePaul Catholic battled Cincinnati (Ohio) Elder this past Friday in what turned out to be an instant classic. The visiting Spartans squandered a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter and dropped a heartbreaker in overtime, 35-34. Despite the loss DePaul’s senior running back and Ohio State pledge, Kareem Walker finished the game with two touchdowns and some hard earned yards, but knows his game is not where he wants it at quite yet.
“We lost by one, so even though we did some good things we still could do better,” Walker told The Michigan Insider afterward. "I feel like I could have done better too. (I) need to improve everything from my vision, feet, power and blocking."
The 6-0, 210-pound Walker has been committed to Ohio State for months, but he recently took an official visit to Michigan. Even so, things in Columbus seem to be good for now.
“I’m 100% committed to Ohio State,” said Walker. “The visit went good (to Michigan). I spoke to the Ohio State staff before and after and we are still good.”
While Walker remains committed to the Buckeyes, the nation's #2 running still maintains an interest in their arch rivals. A big reason for that is his strong connection with Jabrill Peppers.
“Yeah, I am interested (in Michigan),” said Walker. They've got good players and coaches there. They got a Jersey native up there (Peppers) that I feel could push me to the best of my abilities. He is like a big brother off the field and he knows me personally, so he can talk personally to me and make me feel confident. He is the man.”
"(Coach Wheatley) is a former great running back,” Walker added. “I like him and he’s a cool dude. I think he would be a good coach.”
The Wolverines have aggressively recruited the Garden State thanks in large part to the presence of former Paramus (N.J.) Catholic headman Chris Partridge (who serves as Michigan's Director of Player Development and Recruiting). They've now have landed three commits from the state, and Egg Harbor City (N.J.) Timber Creek wideout Ahmir Mitchell has been particularly active in trying to help his future team add Walker to the fold. When asked if the sudden boon of Jersey players on Michigan's roster is a major factor for him, he made it clear that there are other criteria that will be more important.
“Not really," he said. "(Michigan's coaches) just know where good football is at, which is in New Jersey and that is what they are trying to do. They are trying to get all those New Jersey guys.”
Another chapter to the this Walker saga has been the Ohio State flipping longtime Wisconsin running back commit, Antonio Williams. Many have speculated that that development was somehow tied to Walker taking visits and that it has affected his feeling about the Buckeyes.
“No, not at all,” responded Walker matter-of-factly. “I go against a really good running back in practice everyday and my coach doesn’t make it easy on me. To get the spot even with me being the No. 1 running back, he doesn’t care. If I mess up, he directs and tells me and pushes me. I don’t know if (Williams) is a good player because I haven’t seen his film, but I go against competition everyday.”
The same is true for the Buckeyes in their quest to keep Walker in the fold. Michigan isn't the only other suitor giving chase. The five-star tailback said he still plans on visiting Ole Miss, Alabama, Arizona State and Ohio State, but hasn't finalized any of the dates for those trips. He plans to make a final decision on which school he will attend at the conclusion of his visits.