ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. --- North Carolina is one of six schools to have offered J.R. Walker, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound do-everything athlete for Northeastern High.
"He's one of those special players who whenever he touches the ball all the coaches get excited, because they think he can take it to the house," Northeastern head coach Antonio Moore said. "I see him playing corner or safety [in college]. He's a big defensive back; right now, he's probably 6-foot-1 1/2 and he's probably like 200 pounds right now. He's not a normal sophomore. It's not too often that you see sophomores that look like him and play like him."
During the 2015 season, Walker was promoted to the varsity team just as Northeastern started conference play. Seemingly every ensuing week, a new position was added to his workload. Consequently, he entered this past season tasked with playing every skill position on the field -- receiver, quarterback, defensive back, linebacker, running back, and returned kicks and punts.
"He's the type of kid who can play every position on the field," Moore said.
As a sophomore, Walker rode an 11.8 yards-per-carry average to rush for 1,270 yards and 13 touchdowns. Additionally, he passed for 665 yards and six touchdowns and caught ten passes for 237 yards and three more scores. He also found pay dirt a staggering seven times as a returner. Defensively, he made 67 tackles and intercepted two passes.
After working out with the defensive back group at North Carolina's camp last June, Walker was given a brief campus tour and then escorted to Larry Fedora's office. In Fedora's office, Walker was offered a UNC scholarship.
"[Fedora] just said that he liked what he saw today and he was going to offer," Walker said. "He said he will keep checking on me."
Both of the UNC coaches involved in the Heels' recruitment of Walker, Larry Porter and Charlton Warren, have since departed. Before leaving, though, they bestowed lofty praise upon Walker.
"They felt like he's going to be one of those kids who's going to come in and start for them right there," Moore said. "That's based on him being a sophomore and his size and his ability. They felt like he's a little ahead of his time."
Five other schools have offered Walker: Duke, East Carolina, Georgia, NC State, and South Carolina. Meanwhile, Clemson has shown "high, high interest," according to Moore. That's significant, because a Tigers offer could be a game changer.
"Growing up, I've always liked Clemson," Walker said. "That's, I guess, my childhood team. That was a shocker when I heard that they were coming [to Northeastern High for an evaluation visit]."
An NC State junior day in January is the only recruiting visit Walker has made since last summer. However, he says he's trying to get back to UNC either this spring or summer.
Walker is also a member of Northeastern's track team, running in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, as well as several relays. His personal best 100 time is 11.1 seconds... Walker had a cousin play football at Appalachian State.