Early Start Sets Recruit Apart

<p>Twenty new recruits chose Texas Tech's Red Raiders in February. Five prospects inked letters of intent to join the backfield; another five signed aboard for offensive line duties, and three receivers joined Mike Leach's air corps. That's just half the 2005 Texas Tech recruiting class. One of them – Todd Walker, who graduated early, played in the US Army All-Star Game in San Antonio, and enrolled in January – is a second-generation Red Raider legacy player. He's also in spring practice.

According to receivers' coach Sonny Dykes, Walker shows promise despite his lack of experience in the spot.

"Jarrett Hicks had a good year last year, but he's still got a long ways to go in terms of working on consistency and developing that attitude that comes with being `the' guy," Dykes said. "Joel Filani has had a great spring so far with two good solid practices. He's got big play capabilities. This is also a great time of year for guys like Marquis Johnson and Brandon Douglas."

"Todd Walker has jumped in there and done extremely well, and Anthony Jenkins as well," Dykes said. "Really, all of those guys have looked good."

Walker had a reputation in Pflugerville as "a great student" as well as a family heritage of athletic talent – elder brother Grant is in the Purdue football program now. His father, Jim Walker, who played ball at Texas Tech as a tight end from 1961-63, perhaps influenced Todd's Red Raider background – a leaning reinforced when Tech's center, Dylan Gandy, who also came to Tech from Pflugerville, always answered Walker's questions about the program as well as hosting Todd Walker's official visit to the school.

"He's a great character kid, on the field and off. We're really proud of him," Pflugerville Panthers Coach George Herrmann said. "You can play him at quarterback, then move him to receiver and he makes spectacular catches at receiver and then turn around and play defense.

"At the college level, I think he needs to play receiver, and I think he realized that," the coach said. "He's just a quality guy who's going to help Texas Tech."

"Switching positions I'm going to need a little time to get adjusted," Walker said. "Tech throws the ball every down. I just need to become real consistent in what they're doing."

Walker – who has a 4.6 GPA and scored 1230 on the SAT as well as finishing in the top 10 percent of his high school class -- is already helping head coach Mike Leach proclaim, "I think it's the best recruiting class we've had since I've been here. A couple of the things that we're particularly proud of with this recruiting class is the academics of this group."

Walker practiced his new role in earnest – and with great success – during the US Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. Daily head-to-head matchups against the country's top prep defensive backs along with the guidance of West squad coaches including Los Alamitos, Ca. high school's John Barnes, who ran the West All-Stars, helped Walker prepare. During the showcase contest, his two catches included the first touchdown pass of the game, a 16-yard toss that put the West up 7-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Named by Max Emfinger Recruiting a Five-Star Super Athlete and Top 100 recruit, Walker, a 6-1 174-pounder, graduated from Pflugerville in December as a member of the "State Top 100" lists of both the Houston Chronicle and Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, as well as the Scout.com No. 14 overall prospect in the Texas Hot 100. Rivals.com named Walker their No. 41 athlete nationally and No. 59 overall prospect in the Texas Top 100, while ESPN's Tom Lemming named him the No. 11 athlete nationally. He turned in a 4.28 time in the forty during the Nike 2003 summer football camp at College Station.

On defense, a pair of ends and one tackle, a cornerback and a safety come to Tech in the new recruiting class along with three linebackers. Concentrating on Texas recruits, the Tech staff picked up 18 players in all from the Lone Star State as well as top prospects from Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona.

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