Walton recently told Bob Redman of GatorCountry.com that he's considering roughly a dozen schools, adding: ''Right now there is a smaller group ahead of the rest. Penn State, Tennessee, Georgia, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Florida, Florida State, Virginia Tech , those are at the top right now.''
Tennessee hasn't signed a player from Maryland in 10 years. The last two were in the freshman class of 1995, defensive tackle Ron Green (Severna Park) and receiver Greg Kyler (Baltimore). That 10-year drought could end this year, however, given the mutual interest between the Vols and young Walton.
''Now they have a lot of tradition at their school,'' Walton told Redman. ''I saw pictures of their stadium, and it is the biggest stadium I ever saw. I talked to the offensive line coach (Jimmy Ray Stephens) and he was pretty nice.''
Tennessee's chief challenger for Walton's services may be SEC East rival Florida. The Gators lose five senior offensive linemen at the conclusion of the 2005 season, so they are frantically lining up replacements for the Class of '06.
''They tell me they need a lot of help, as they lose four senior starters and will be starting over again on the offensive line,'' he told Redman. ''A lot of talent comes out of there and they send people to the League (NFL). It's a great program.''
Another SEC East member, Georgia, also is pitching for Walton's services.
''I watched a couple of games of them, and I saw that they play great ball,'' he said. ''It starts with the offensive line. They had a great line. The running backs are good, and they went to their little bowl game.
''They have good tradition. I talked to the recruiting coordinator (former Vol aide Rodney Garner) when he came down during the track season. We talked a long time.''