It's one thing to have scat-back size. It's another to use it like you expect.
Jaylen Walton can do just that.
To the tune of 2,200 yards last year as well as 30 touchdowns, this ankle breaker did just that, over and over again.
Find yourself as the opponent, face-to-face with him, and if you are the only thing between him in the end zone, there is no you. There is only the end zone. "Oh man, one guy isn't stopping me. No way I'm letting that happen," Walten said with a laugh after I asked him if one guy could stop him in the open field. "I may have to give him a couple of moves, but it usually just takes one and I'm gone."
His 30 touchdowns speaks to that, one might say.
His offers probably do as well.
16 and counting, the most recent coming from Louisville, Memphis and Vanderbilt. It's a list that also includes such notables as UCLA, Tennessee, Nebraska, Arkansas and Ole Miss. The Rebels were his first offer, and he says that he's a little surprised at the landslide since, but based on last year, maybe not as much as he might have been had that kind of season not happened. "We had it going. We wanted to get to the championship and we didn't do it," he said. "It was my low output of the year. I only got 115 yards and a touchdown.
"Man, they were loading up that box on us all day."
He'll probably see more of the same this year, but he'll have the comfort of going into this season with almost the entire offensive line back, as well as adding a newcomer to the group, someone Walten said is a stud. So, he's looking to make an even bigger impact and perhaps help his team make it a little farther down the road.
Back to recruiting, with 16 offers in hand, that's a lot of choices. Of course, being a Tennessee kid, many feel that the Tennessee offer is all that it takes, and for him it's only a matter of time. But there is another faction that thinks his first offer, that one from Ole Miss, did such a number on him, he might end up going there. The truth, at least right now, Walten says isn't even in-between. "I know a lot about those programs, and Ole MIss, I love that place. They were my first offer and all," he said. "I actually thought that's where I might go. But all those other schools came in."
Most of the offers come from a region around where he lives. Heavy ACC aid not them, the SEC takes up the slack. Offers from the Pac 10 and the Big Ten as the Huskers will be a new member of that conference this year, seem a bit out of the norm. But Walten said that here, there, wherever - he doesn't care. It's football. "You want to play, you have to play in everything. But honestly, I wouldn't mind going where it's a little cold. I'm not much of a heat boy. I don't like it that much," he said.
But he also said that heat, just like the cold, won't determine where he goes. "The right fit. That's what I want. Whatever that is, when it comes to the team, the coaches, the campus - all of that. You just have to get used to the weather, whatever that is," he said.
Of the Huskers Walten said that he had talked to one of the coaches, but couldn't remember who. He admitted that with the slew of new offers coming down the pipe, it's hard to keep track of all the names. And as you might expect from a young man in the SEC, he didn't have a lot of knowledge about the Big Red.
But he believes he knows one thing about them for certain.
"Some teams run, they really run. I like that," he said. "Guys get the ball in space, and I get that, there's no stopping me," Walten said. Another offer a bit off the beaten path, so to speak, is Cincy. And while their offense has changed dramatically since Chris Kelly went to Notre Dame to be Head Coach, what Walten has seen of what they are doing now, he likes. "I love how they spread it out, and how you get the ball with just the field in front of you. I think that really fits one of my strengths," he said.
That strength is his vision, which he describes more as his anticipation of what is about to happen and where holes will be. And then there's that quickness to hit the hole he thinks will be there. He said he's usually right. "I talked to my lineman about that. We get a feel for each other, what they are doing and all that. That way I know the timing, so I can anticipate those holes and hit them and go."
With the offers coming in like crazy, it stands to reason that he could be in store for yet more, and he'll have more teams to throw on the list. That's fine with him, and it's not out of greed. He likes having the options, and it gives him the opportunity to let recruiting come to him a bit, so he can figure out more about all these new schools. But he did say that this off season would hopefully involve some trips.
"I want to go see a Memphis Spring practice, one at Ole Miss, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. And I am taking a visit to see Cincinnati next week," he said. "I don't know about anymore trips. That's all I have figured out right now. I may wait to take some official visits to places a little farther away."
In addition to all of the stuff he can do on the field, his prowess off the field isn't shabby either. Count Duke as another one of his offers, and if you know anything about the Blue Devils, they don't offer anyone who is even close to the edge when it comes to academics.
Consider Walten a safe bet there, too.
"I have a 3.6 GPA right now. Academics are really important to me," he said.
As for favorites, Walten insists he has none. As for offers he doesn't have yet that he might like to see, USC (Southern Cal) and LSU are just two that find themselves on the list. But it's all about time for him, and he's not in any rush. Well, at least not until the season. With that line in front of him, he'll be in a big rush then. "It's all about State. That's what we are thinking about. That's what we want to do," he said. "We want that title. That's what we want. That's how I want to finish off my career here."