To a man every recruit will tell you that relationships play into their decision-making processes. The connections they form with coaches (and that their parents form with coaches), that they form with players, and sometimes the ones they form with other recruits can all matter in the final analysis. The only variant is how much.
Walker, a five-star running back from Wayne (N.J.) DePaul Catholic, is just two weeks removed from making his own decision. In the immediate aftermath of his commitment to Michigan questions arose about how much his choice would impact Gary, Paramus (N.J.) Catholic’ latest star and the nation’s top recruit.
“It (has) an impact,” Gary told The Michigan Insider. “We are friends. He knows the person I am, he knows what type of football I like to play, and he just knows how I am socially. He is not going to lead me to a place that he feels is not good for me, and that connection is important.”
To be clear, that does not mean the five-star defensive lineman has already made his mind up. Gary has said repeatedly that his ultimate criterion will be what is best for him personally and that he won’t commit to a school because of another recruit. However, there’s no mistaking the fact that Walker’s presence in Ann Arbor helps the Wolverines’ cause.
“Really (the relationship) became tight as the recruiting process began to heat up for both of us,” said Walker. “Being from New Jersey, there is not a lot of kids, who have the level of people that are coming after us or want us. We started taking trips together and talking to each other about (what) certain coaches are saying to him and saying to me. So having a guy like him in New Jersey… a high recruit like you or higher… is really good to have because you can go back and forth with each other. Aside from your parents and support, you are always going to need somebody that is there that can help you out with that.”
There also a need for someone that understands when it’s time to give the recruiting talk a rest.
“To be honest, this whole week we haven’t really been talking about college,” said Gary. “We have been talking about this UA game and how we got to put on for Jersey and that is about it.”
That epitomizes Walker’s approach to recruiting his friend. It’s persistent only in its subtlety. You won’t find Walker giving random sales pitches or messaging reminders because that’s not his style. And his low-pressure way appeals to Gary because it’s not Gary’s style either.
“We are two similar guys,” said Walker. “We connect and our connection is real good. Neither one of us really talk a lot. If it isn’t someone we really know, then we don’t converse with them. It is not to be mean or try to be an outcast or think we are better than people. We are not the type of people to go up to people and have a conversation with them. That is not our personality… whether we were big-time recruits or not. I think it is really about personality.”
Stay tuned to the Michigan Insider for part two of this feature. In the meantime premium members can find out about another card the Wolverines have up their sleeve in the battle for their #1 target.