With each passing day the number of collegiate options seems to grow for McDonough (GA) Union Grove high DB Avery Walls. Programs from across the country have joined together to form a scholarship tally that certainly belies his three-star status. His combination of speed, power, and versatility is responsible for making him one of the most heavily recruited defensive backs in the south.
"When coaches see me they say, ‘he is not one of those big 6'2" safeties… he is 5'11" 190, but he loves to hit," the humble youngster said. "I grew up playing hockey so I love contact. But I'm also fast. I ran a 10.65 100 meter and we had the state champion 4x100 team than ran 42.39. So I can play corner or safety. At corner I like to get up on guy and get in their heads and be physical with them. At safety I like to come in from ten yards out punish the ball carrier."
That is the type intensity coaches covet, and it certainly caught the attention of the University of Michigan.
"I've been talking to them for a good two to half to three months," Walls said of the Wolverines. "Growing up I was an Ohio State fan because my mom went there, so you always did not know what to think of Michigan. (However) you knew a lot about them… their history and tradition of those things. It always excited me and everything. I've never hated Michigan so that's a good thing."
That Buckeye allegiance may have caused some parents to obstruct interest in the Maize & Blue, but that isn't the case for Walls' mother.
"She said Michigan was actually her first school and there was kind of a debate on whether she wanted to go to Ohio State or Michigan," he explained. "At the end she ended up going to Ohio State. She said that she does not care. If I end up going there, she will be root for me. That's the whole thing with her. Now that (the Wolverines) are in the picture, it is definitely a school that I'm going to go up and look at. I do not know when I'm going to make a trip up there, but I definitely know I am going to go up there for a visit with my mom. That's how that is going to go down right now."
The Michigan coaching staff managed to etch those visit plans in stone a few weeks ago when they upped the ante in his recruitment.
"They watched my film and they were really jacked up about it," Walls recalled. "They were really interested in me and that's when they first offered me a scholarship… about a month and a half ago to two months ago. Every week basically, they make sure they are sending me mail, or I am talking to them on Facebook, or I'm giving Coach Rodriguez a call."
Walls has maintained similar contact with a number of other coaches as well. At this only point in his recruitment he is making it a point to keep all of his suitors on equal footing.
"I don't have any favorites yet," he said. "I'm still just taking a look at all the schools right. Michigan is showing me a lot of love, but all the schools are showing me a lot of love. I want to look at as many of them as I can. I know I'm not going to be able to see all of them. I also know that Michigan is definitely one of the schools I'm going to visit. It could be in the summer unofficially, or in the first few weeks of the season officially. After I take my visits, then I'll be ready to pick a school. I won't take a long time (making a choice) because I plan to graduate in December. Relationship with the players and the coaches is going to b very important. I want to go someplace where I feel wanted, fit in, and have a chance to play. Academics will play a major role as well."
One trait that won't play a role is proximity to home.
"I have family all over," Walls explained. "My mom is originally from Connecticut, I was born in Columbus (OH), lived for about 13 years in Florida, and now I live in Georgia. I have a lot family in Ohio, I have an uncle in Michigan. And right now I'm with my family in California. I have family all over so distance won't play a factor."
That decision criteria bodes well for the Maize & Blue. So too does the favorable impression of them he has already formed.
"I'm hearing a lot of positive things from guys that have gone up to Michigan," Walls said. "One of them is Ron Stokes. His son (Je'Ron Stokes) plays for Michigan. Plus I like Coach Rodriguez. He came over from West Virginia and he is a real down to earth guy. I think this is going to be a big year for them. He's brought in a lot of good recruits the past couple of years and I think everything is coming together. Michigan has a great strength and conditioning program that I've heard a lot about so they can really help my development."
GoBlueWolverine will have more on Walls in the coming weeks.