I guess it goes down as you never know when you might run across a promising college football prospect. Walker Niver is one of those really young players that I always caution to be careful about going overboard on. I will say this, not many sophomores to be look as good. He has the look of a young man that loves to play the game.
On Saturday night Zach Lancaster was handling the coverage of the crucial Bedlam baseball action at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City as I had a previous commitment to join my wife at a wedding in Stillwater that my daughter was an attendant in. It was a beautiful wedding uniting Dillon and Sarah (Yeakley) DeMuth. It turns out that on the DeMuth side there was a youngster there from Sperry. Not sure, the absolute relation, but it was on the groom's side. I was told that Walker Niver was a 6-4, 220 pound sophomore to be and that I had to keep an eye on him.
Later at the reception, I was introduced to Walker (#42 in orange in the picture) and he isn't quite 6-4, 220, but at age 15, he is every bit 6-3, 215 and a good looking young man. He also told me he has a 4.17 GPA. That's an Ivy League-type GPA. I exchanged phone numbers with Walker, talked a little about Sperry Pirates football. He has a quarterback just one grade ahead of him in Beau Teel that is a "salty" ball player. Niver is a fullback/tight end on offense and an outside linebacker and defensive end on defense.
As a freshman, he caught four passes for 47-yards and a touchdown. Those aren't huge numbers, but I watched some tape on Sunday when I had a little bit of time. He blocks people out of the play and does a really good job for such a young player of staying with contact in blocking and finishing the block. That is something that is hard to get a younger player to do. On defense, he is just as determined. His stats from The Tulsa World show 28 tackles, three sacks, and a fumble recovery. On tape alone, I saw four tackles for loss and another several right at the line of scrimmage. He stays with the contact on his tackles and doesn't lose control. Twice, I did see him lose the ball carrier and both times he quickly recovered and finished the tackle.
Niver is young, but he shows a 255 pound bench press max, which with offseason work is probably closer to 300 already. He also shows a 405 pound squat max, very solid for his age. I'm not a big fan of jumping the gun on young players, but seeing his family, most of the men were 6-2 and taller, some 6-4 and above. Walker is going to grow some more and he is a definite "Cowboy back" type of prospect or a defensive end on the other side. Right now, he seems ahead of schedule in his development on both sides of the football.
I've never been huge on recruiting that young (freshman to sophomore) players. I think you need to see more, but I will keep an eye on Walker Niver. He may be a sophomore, but he looks like a player and a Division I prospect.