PSU Visit Latest Step for Walker

The Virginia defensive tackle continued to work his way through the recruiting process with a trip to Happy Valley. See what and who stood out to him.

When Ricky Walker camped on the turf practice fields outside Holuba Hall last summer, he saw Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson from one perspective. Saturday, he saw him from another.

The 6-foot-2, 275-pound junior defensive tackle from Bethel High (Hampton, Va.) spent much of Saturday morning and afternoon on the Lions' University Park campus, seeing the veteran assistant Johnson in the meeting room as well as on the practice fields during an unofficial visit.

“It went real well. The coaches said they love me, and practice was very energetic,” Walker said. “I felt very comfortable there.”

Walker arrived on the still snow laden campus about 7 a.m. Saturday, early enough to sit in on position and defensive meetings before head coach Bill O'Brien's team took the field for its first spring practice in full pads around 9 a.m. He said the session featured the team “going after it, and they were getting into it.”

Of course, Walker wasn't working out this time around, meaning he was able to capture Johnson in his native environment, while refreshing his mind on technique and hip movement, too.

“I was able to stand where I wanted, so I got a front row view on everything, and got to see everything and take in some knowledge of how practice went. It was cool,” Walker said. “I also got to see all the good stuff, like the stadium and the weight room and Coach Fitz [Craig Fitzgerald]. But the thing that stood out was Coach Jonson. He's very active on the practice field, and stressed technique while criticizing and coaching well. He really knows the game.”

The FOX Sports NEXT three-star prospect also briefly chatted with O'Brien, who was also busy running practice and chatting with high school coaches as a part of the two-day coaches' clinic taking place on campus.

But outside of the high intensity drills that pitted offensive lineman against defensive lineman at one point, Walker also noticed Nittany Lions cornerbacks coach and defensive coordinator John Butler, who the junior quickly realized is a high-intensity instructor.

“One of the things that stood out was the energy of Coach Butler. He knows the game well, and wants you to be the best,” Walker said. “That's one thing that he does on the practice field. He's the only one I saw moving around all the time, and coming to your face to congratulate you for good players and tell you about bad plays.”

A trip to Tennessee for the Volunteers' April 20 spring game is next on Walker's schedule. It's a school he doesn't know a ton about, but one he also has a great relationship with now that former Cincinnati coach Butch Jones and his staff are firmly in place.

One thing is for sure, though -- as Walker and his father travel back to Hampton, he knows he has more knowledge and understanding about the Lions' program than before he arrived. He also possesses a more sculpted view of Johnson and the Lions depth chart, too.

“It was great. He [Johnson] stressed everything he did in camp, and teaches his players well. I'd be very comfortable with him,” Walker said. “I don't have a top five, but if I did, I'm pretty sure they'd be in it. They are a great school, and practice definitely helped them.

“I feel very comfortable with Coach Johnson, and my relationship with my position coach is important to me. That, and the depth chart stands out, too, because [defensive tackles] have to come in and be ready to play in 2014.”


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