Walker sold from the start

Miami Pace (Fla.) linebacker Anthony Walker named Northwestern as his top school immediately upon receiving a scholarship offer. On Tuesday, he gave the Wildcats his verbal commitment, citing NU's combination of academic prestige and Big Ten football.

Anthony Walker had never considered Northwestern would become an option, let alone that he would become a Wildcat. That all changed when NU assistant coach Marty Long met with him at Miami Pace (Fla.) High School.

The three-star linebacker was immediately sold on Northwestern upon learning of the school's academic opportunities and Big Ten football program.

Walker felt Northwestern was what he was looking for, naming it as his top school. After giving further consideration, he pulled the trigger on Tuesday.

"I have the opportunity to play Big Ten football and get an Ivy League education," said Walker of Northwestern. "You can't beat that combination." The decision wasn't too difficult for Walker. A June visit -- his solo first out-of-state experience -- helped solidify his feeling of the Wildcats.

Northwestern has always been my No. 1 choice since day one when they offered me," Walker said. "I had already decided that I wanted to go there, I just wanted to take my time and make sure it waas the right fit for me and that I feel great about my decision."

After coming to the decision, Walker called Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald and explained the news.

"He was very happy, very excited," said Walker of Fitzgerald. "He told me he can't wait for me to become a Wildcat. I'm excited to be a part of the family."

Walker, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound outside linebacker, also held offers from Minnesota, Purdue, Bowling Green, Buffalo and Florida International. Fitzgerald told Walker he hopes the linebacker can become an impact player on the Wildcats' defense.

"Coach Fitz said he expects me to come in right away and be a big factor on the defensive side of the ball," said Walker. "I have a chance to compete for a job right away. I'm going to go in with a positive mindset and whatever happens happens."

Walker is Northwestern's 14th verbal commitment for its 2013 recruiting class and the first from the Sunshine State. He is just the third who plays defense, joining Matt Harris and Kyle Queiro, though Queiro could possibly end up playing receiver.

For Walker, the greatest selling point which Northwestern offers was its opportunities on the field and in the classroom.

"I always wanted to go to a school with great academics and a great football team," he said. "I'm excited to have that opportunity."

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers for Big Red Report, and currently covers the Northwestern Wildcats and Chicago Cubs. He currently resides on Chicago's north side.
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