And sometimes there are players like Ricky Walker. The Bethel High (Hampton, Va.) defensive tackle drove to University Park before the crack of dawn last June to camp at one of Penn State's Advanced Skill Camps, and not only did he leave with an offer, but a new favorite coach, too.
He's a good guy, a great coach, and so far he's my favorite position coach at any of the schools I've been to, Walker said in reference to Nittany Lion defensive line stalwart Larry Johnson. I felt very comfortable with him at camp, and his history and all that stuff speak for itself.
Johnson will join Penn State running backs coach Charles London at Bethel Thursday, stopping by to see head coach Bubba Hooker and learn more about the talented tackle.
That's huge that Coach Johnson is coming down with Coach London. London is my recruiting coach, and every since summer when I attended camp, we started becoming real close, Walker exclaimed. He came down near the end of the last school year, and that was the first time I met him.
A two-way lineman, Walker recorded 70 tackles and 10 sacks last fall, helping Bethel reach the Virginia state quarterfinals. The Bruins dropped a 23-21 affair with Western Branch High. His efforts did not go unrecognized, though. The junior holds six offers, and was named first-team All-East region on both sides of the ball as well as the Peninsula District Defensive Player of the Year.
I had a pretty good season this year, and I hope that when people hear my name, they think of me as a player with a very high football IQ, Walker said. I come from a football family, and my goal is to go hard on every single play and really focus on the small things like my hips and hands, because those are the big things to me.
His family has also done big things on the gridiron. Uncle Adam played in 13 games during San Francisco's Super Bowl season in 1995, and his brother, Rijo, recorded 20 tackles in 12 games for Virginia this past season. It's from them that Walker has cultivated his football mentality.
I'm a leader on our team, and it's really because I'm going to be a four-year varsity guy. I lead our team by example, not so much vocally, Walker said. The other players respect me because I always go hard in the weight room and like practicing hard. Whenever practice is down, I come through and get a big hit to get everybody excited.
The junior is slowly becoming more excited about Penn State, too, a program he says is growing more and more on him with each passing day.
Penn State is creeping up every day on my radar. The more I think about it, they have nice facilities, a great history and stadium, and because of my family, I grew up a Penn State fan, Walker said. I know if I go there I'd only have two years of sanctions, but I'm not really worried about that right now. I'm going to step back and talk everything over with my family before I decide on anything.
His facilities observation comes from direct experience. After a busy day at camp, Walker received a tour of University Park before heading off campus and receiving his offer.
When I first walked into their indoor facility, I was like, 'wow,' because they had two fields in there. Most places I've been to only have one, he noted. It was just a great atmosphere up there, and the tour around campus and seeing the buildings was great.
He also knows that whatever school he ends up at, it will be great, too.
I want a school with good academics, that's pretty big for me, Walker said. I want to go somewhere that I feel comfortable with the coaches, and a place that wants to take care of me for four or five years, and a place that has a tradition and history of being a winning program.