PSU Steps Up Recruitment of Walker

Renowned Nittany Lion defensive line coach Larry Johnson stopped by the Virginia defensive tackle's school earlier this week.

Ricky Walker wasn't able to say much to Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson when the Lion stalwart visited Bethel High (Hampton, Va.) to check-in on 6-foot-2, 275-pound defensive tackle Tuesday. A brief hallway conversation was all they were allowed to have under NCAA rules, but to Walker, that was more than enough.

The offered junior heaped praise on Johnson a day after he stopped by, indicating the Lions are likely as high on his board as he is on theirs.

“Coach Johnson is a great guy, and the best defensive line coach in the Big Ten,” Walker said Wednesday. “He came by to talk to my coach.”

Walker first came onto Penn State's radar nearly a year ago at one of the Lions' June Advanced Skill Camps, and his interest, and relationship, with Johnson and recruiting coach Charles London has only grown since.

Though Penn State is one of many schools, and staffs, to stop by to evaluate the FOX Sports NEXT three-star prospect during the spring evaluation period, there is no question the Lion staff stands out in his mind.

“It means a lot for Coach J to come down. It's very important,” he explained. “He's the best defensive line coach recruiting me, and for him to come in and check on one of his recruits that he really wants, it means he wants to keep building that relationship, and that's very exciting.”

Since that June day last year, he has kept in steady contact with both Penn State coaches, and Johnson often sends him video links and other literature on Facebook. The contact only picked up once he received a verbal scholarship offer from Penn State in October.

It was just his fourth offer at the time, but the Virginia standout now claims 16. That State was involved early in his recruitment is certainly an added bonus. He's enjoying the recruiting process.

“I just thought I was going to be a regular old guy, and have about five or seven offers, and stay on the down-low,” Walker said. “These camps are pretty good with getting your name out there, and I guess my highlight film is pretty good, too. I just have to keep playing with a chip on my shoulder.”

Walker has yet to seriously narrow his field or set a timetable for making a commitment. He is still waiting to see if Tennessee will offer after a trip to Knoxville for the Vols' spring game. He called that visit “pretty good,” and also added it will likely be his last of the spring.

His game plan for the next few months?

“I think after all this spring evaluation stuff, and all the coaches come in, I'll sit down with my favorite and narrow it down,” Walker explained. “From there, it depends on how my recruitment turns out.

“If it picks up real heavy, I'll probably do it before the season. But, if not, I'll probably enjoy the process and wait maybe until after the football season.”

With no other visits on the docket just yet, Walker works out frequently. He recalls the tips Johnson gave him during his camp day last year, too.

“Monday through Thursday, I'm in the weight room and on the track with the speed coach,” he said. “On weekends, I'm working with the bag and on my hands. I'm not done yet. I've got to keep working and be the best player I can be.

“Coach Johnson has all the great stuff, and even with technique, he criticizes the little things.”

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