“He’s probably the most versatile player I’ve ever coached,” New Hanover offensive coordinator Darryl Raynor said. “We play him in about four or five different positions… He’s a really good blocker for us. He’s a strong kid [and] very quick, so we just try to move him around. He has great hands.”
Four games into his sophomore season, Walston became a varsity starter for New Hanover. The following year, he led New Hanover in receiving yards with 847 on 44 catches. Ten of those were turned into touchdowns.
“He’s mainly a tight end but we flex him out as a wide receiver,” Raynor said. “He’ll play the backside wide receiver, he plays H-back for us, and he’ll play fullback for us as well. We just put him in a bunch of different positions that way people can’t double-cover him.”
Shortly after Signing Day, North Carolina unofficially offered Walston a scholarship.
“Coach [Seth] Littrell said I’m a 100-percent offer guy,” Walston said. “I kind of took that as I got offered.”
Nonetheless, Walston was officially offered a couple of weeks later while sitting in Larry Fedora’s office as part of UNC’s Junior Day in February. The lack of a surprise didn’t minimize the offer’s impact.
“It was huge,” Walston said. “A lot of my family graduated from there – my grandfather, my mom, my mom’s sister, both my uncles. It’s where most of my family went to school. So it meant a lot to them and meant a lot to me.”
Additionally, Walston has collected offers from Boston College, Charlotte, East Carolina, Maryland, NC State, Northwestern, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest. He’s also receiving significant interest from Georgia.
Although Wilmington isn’t within one of his assigned territories, Seth Littrell, UNC’s offensive coordinator and tight ends coach, is personally recruiting Walston. Littrell emails Walston daily and the two speak over the phone several times a week.
“Coach Littrell is awesome,” Walston said. “He has the same hobbies as me – we both hunt, fish, and like nice cars. There’s a good connection there.”
Littrell also speaks to Raynor a few times a week. Among the topics is how Littrell sees Walston fitting into UNC’s one-back, no-huddle spread offense.
“From the conversations that I’ve had with him, they want to move Garrett around,” Raynor said. “He said he reminds them of some of the past tight ends they have. He’s only 220 pounds, so they want to get some weight on him so he can go over the middle. They want him to be a red zone player. Coach Littrell said he really wants him.”
Walston returned to UNC for a second junior day two weeks back. The sequel’s invitation list was much more exclusive.
“The second one obviously was the Duke [basketball] game and I’ve never been to a Carolina-Duke game before,” Walston said. “That was obviously a great experience. People who love sports would love to go to one of those, just because the rivalry is intense.”
Along with the basketball game that accompanied it, the second junior day’s itinerary was more focused on entertaining its guest than informing.
“Normally right when you come in, you do the check in and then you kind of hang out in the players’ lounge before touring the facilities,” Walston said. “But this time, right when you came in they had these guys standing out there like the secret service and they asked for clearance to let me in. Another thing that stood out was they had all the players get into the room kind of like it was draft day and they called your name out and said something about you and you walked out onto the Carolina Blue carpet – that was pretty cool.”
Walston nearly forgot to mention his accomplishment that day. He teamed with UNC pledge Kyran Bowman and won the corn hole tournament among the junior day attendees.
“After the first two wins, we were like ‘We’re going to win this thing,’” Walston said. “We won it and then we played Coach Fedora and Coach [Gunter] Brewer in the second championship and we took care of business there, too.
The special experiences from that day coupled with the February visit in which he left with an offer has positioned UNC favorably for Walston.
“It definitely bumped them up to near the top – if not the top – of my list,” Walston said. “I really had an unbelievable time and I know my dad did when he went [in February] and I know Coach Raynor did when he went [in March].”
Formally, Walston, who is eyeing a late April/early May verbal commitment, has a top three consisting of UNC, NC State, and Virginia Tech. He has visited all three of those schools at least once – he has actually visited the two in-state rivals three or four times.
“I’ve gotten along with their coaches really well,” Walston said. “And obviously they’re the three schools that I’ve been to. And they all have a good opportunity for me to play as a freshman, which is a big goal of mind. And they’re all not too far from home.”
Georgia could insert itself into Walston’s favorites list shortly. Within the next couple of weeks, he plans to visit Athens and hopes to leave with a Bulldog offer.
Additionally, Walston hopes to visit Maryland and make return visits to UNC and NC State for spring practices.
Walston also plays baseball for New Hanover where he plays right field and pitches. After four games, he’s batting .400.
Heels Well Positioned for Walston
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