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Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com
Quay Walker has seen a lot of change during his recruiting over the last three months.

The curious case of impressive 4-star OLB recruit Quay Walker

Want a daily lap through Georgia football recruiting? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. We’ll cover the news and which way this 4-star like Quay Walker or Emmit Gooden might lean plus add some perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.

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Quay Walker is a South Georgia kid. He’s not the sort that picks a school based on the way the wind might be whipping through Cordele today.

That in and of itself usually seems to come with a blue collar mindset and a fanatical work ethic. But Walker has never seemed the type of kid that locks onto a school based on the way the wind might be whipping through Cordele any given day.

It might read like that, but that’s not it for the nation’s No. 14 OLB.

The 4-star recruit out of Crisp County seemed to favor Georgia at the Rising Seniors event back in December. That was traced to his interest in the state school, the mutual interest he was getting from the Bulldogs and the feeling his close friend and teammate Markaviest “Big Cat” Bryant was trending toward Athens at that time.

His teammates harped on the fact Walker was usually wearing Georgia gear at the Rising Seniors game.

But then Bryant’s eyes turned toward LSU and then Auburn. When “Big Cat” signed with Auburn on National Signing Day, the tea leaves were trending for Walker to head that way, too.

4-star LB Quay Walker was a big part of a 13-1 turnaround season at Crisp County last year. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

Walker said that Auburn linebackers coach Travis Williams was recruiting him with a fury that would’ve played well in a Red Bull commercial.

But Alabama and Florida are now working harder for Walker than Auburn and Georgia.

“I don’t have any leader right now,” Walker have. “But I do have top schools right now that I am getting ready to drop in a minute.”

Why these decisions can be so tough

Bryant is signed and sealed with Auburn. But Auburn plus Bryant will not build the Crisp County pipeline all by itself.

“A lot of people think that I am going where ‘Big Cat’ is going but at the end of the day it is going to be my decision,” Walker said. “A lot of people have seen once everybody saw in the articles that I wanted to go play with Big Cat. I know plenty of people think that I’m going to go to Auburn but it is going to be the best decision for me, though.”

Walker is a physical player that can also really run and cover in space. He’s very skilled at that for an OLB. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com)

Try to pump the brakes on any “kids these days” rant and just learn what that’s been like to be sorting through potentially life-altering decisions like that.

Walker’s views are rooted in logic. He’s applying the formula that attention equals value. Recruiters are going to hit up the players they want the most. Contacts equal worth.

Alabama recruits him the hardest right now. If a school like Georgia matched that effort, then that program would quickly ascend to the top of his thought process.

“No doubt,” Walker said. “That’s what all of this recruiting is all about. I’m looking at these schools who want me. Not basically where I want to go. The school that wants me the most will basically be the best decision for me, my future and my family.”

The players they want the most are the ones they feel will help them win. It means recruit this guy, sign him and the family doesn’t need to fill out change-of-address forms anytime soon.

Breaking down Quay Walker

Quay Walker was clad head-to-toe in UGA gear back at the Rising Seniors game in December. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com)

Bryant was an Under Armour All-American last year, but the main aspect of his game was rushing the passer. Walker is an even better player than that. His versatility and athleticism at his size are what sets him apart.

The 6-foot-3, 219-pound prospect can rush the passer, stop the run and shadow slot receivers. The term “three down linebacker” is thrown around a lot. But it really applies to a guy like Walker. He can even move down and play inside linebacker if he had to.

Walker could do it. He recently put up a 500-pound squat. But that’s not what he is built for. That’s kind of like getting a Mustang to pull cars out of ditches.

Quay Walker’s SEC phases

Was it right to say that Walker was thinking Auburn was going to be the place after his friend signed with the Tigers?  Was that legit?

“It was,” Walker said. “It basically was. But at the same time that was mixed feelings for me. I basically got caught up in all of that.”

When that happened, Walker was getting messages every day from Williams.

“That wasn’t happening for me like that with any other schools then,” he said. “It was something that was sticking with me. I was stuck on what he was telling me.”

That has changed. Others schools have offered. More schools have “triggered in” on him. Which school is on him the hardest?

“That’s Alabama there,” Walker said. “No doubt about that.”

Walker basically rattles off the defensive staff when discussing his relationships with the Tide. Defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley serves as his primary recruiter.

Walker is rated as the nation’s No. 14 OLB for 2018. Look for that value to continue to rise. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com)

“I get on the phone and I talk to coach (Nick) Saban, (Alabama defensive coordinator) coach (Jeremy) Pruitt and I talk to the outside linebackers coach (Tosh Lupoi) a lot,” Walker said. “I talk to all those guys. I went down there on a visit and they told me everybody and they showed me that I was one of the top recruits they were trying to get in.”

“They show me everything,” Walker said. “They show me how explosive I am and can play a big role by coming in and playing early.”

Walker will not enroll early in January of 2018.

He also felt very strongly about Florida, too. Alabama and Florida continue to be the two schools which recruit him the hardest at this time.

“Florida is very high with me, too,” he said. “They are right behind Alabama or probably neck-and-neck right with Alabama. Florida is right there, too.”

The Gators hit him up with their strong pitch from offensive line coach Brad Davis and that message goes all the way down the staff.

“Florida has always been like that with me,” Walker said.

When he drops that list of top schools, it will likely contain Alabama, Auburn, Florida LSU and Georgia. But there will be more than that.

Quay Walker’s thoughts on UGA

Georgia clearly led for Walker in December. But it looked like the Bulldogs dropped a few rungs in mid-February.

“Nothing really happened with me and Georgia,” Walker said. “It was basically just comparing. Comparing them to other schools which were contacting me every day. I wasn’t getting that from Georgia. The position coach at Georgia (outside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer) would reach out to me but nothing like these other schools.”

He did speak to Kirby Smart on the phone about two weeks ago. But he has yet to speak with defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.

“Nothing has changed with me and Georgia,” Walker said. “I still love Georgia. That’s what most people don’t realize. Just because ‘Big Cat’ isn’t going to Georgia doesn’t mean I will not. I love Georgia. I still love Georgia.”

He said there was “no doubt” still a big chance he would go to Georgia.

“I still wear all my G’s around all the time,” Walker said.

It is also worth noting that 4-star DB Trey Dean is really high on Georgia at this time. He was clad in all-Georgia the other day at the MVP Camp at Lovejoy High School.

Dean continues to say that he will play with Walker in college. Walker even acknowledged that pledge they made to each other that week at Rising Seniors.

“I like how competitive he is,” Walker said. “I like the way we would be together on the same team. We would pick each other up and encourage one another a whole lot. We talked about playing together a lot really want to play with one another at the next level.”

It is only March. That’s what recruits say and what reporters usually print at this time. But the words from both young men seem stronger than Charmin.

Dean also made the prediction that Walker would not end up at Auburn. He said that the scheme doesn’t fit Walker’s game. Auburn has also only offered just Walker.

It sounds like the more logical package deal with Walker right now would include Dean. Not Bryant.

Georgia missed on another dual-threat QB

The scorecard over the last month doesn’t look good for UGA on the dual-threat QB front. Bishop Gorman 4-star QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson released a Final 7 on Tuesday.

He did not include Georgia.

https://twitter.com/DoriansTweets/status/844345038737879040

Thompson-Robinson did include South Carolina. That’s interesting. Those Gamecocks also appear to be the team to beat for Kereon Joyner, too. Joyner is rated as the nation’s No. 8 dual-threat for 2018.

Joyner still lists UGA among his top schools. He does plan to visit Athens this spring.

There has been a lot of hemming and hawing about Georgia and its clear QB needs for this recruiting cycle. That’s clear given that UGA only had two scholarship QBs on the roster for the first day of spring practice yesterday. The Bulldogs have bid adieu to both Parker McLeod and Brice Ramsey for the 2017 season over the last few days, too.

There will still only be two scholarship QBs on the field for fall camp after preferred walk-on Stetson Bennett IV enrolls in June. The situation sounds a whole lot like what my SEC Country colleague Chris Kirschner posted after Alabama also whiffed out on Thompson-Robinson.

The Crimson Tide is also experiencing difficulty lining up their QB ducks for 2018, too. The common thread here is clear.

Both programs started a highly-regarded freshman for the bulk of last season. Alabama and Georgia also saw an All-American QB prospect in the Class of 2017 enroll early in January, too.

Big JUCO defensive tackle visited yesterday

Emmit Gooden, a name to know at defensive tackle for the Class of 2018, was at UGA yesterday. Gooden ranks as the nation’s No. 2 JUCO prospect for his position this year.

Gooden told DawgNation that visit went well. He feels great about the opportunity at Georgia. The Bulldogs are currently his biggest offer at this time.

Defensive line coach Tray Scott has made Gooden a priority.

“I got the chance to see whatever I wanted and talk to the right people,” Gooden said.

He spent the night in Athens. Gooden felt that getting the chance to speak with Smart was a highlight. What did Smart tell him?

“That I’m the guy and he loves my tape,” Gooden said.

He also brought up his interaction with Trent Thompson. Gooden referred to him as “Big Trent” in casual conversation. Thompson told Gooden he would fit in well at Georgia, plus one other thing.

“I could make a big-time impact and the pros of coming on and coming in early rather than late,” Gooden said.

Gooden will enroll early in January of 2018. He wasn’t sure if UGA has assumed the leader’s position in his decision just yet. His answer will gain needed clarity after he visits a few more schools this week.

He currently plans to check out Memphis and UAB this week. The Independence Community College (Kan.) standout said he might also squeeze in a trip to Alabama.

Gooden, now at the 6-foot-4 mark and weighing 310 pounds, was an academic hardship coming out of high school in 2016. He was rated as a 4-star DE back then.

He said he’d have likely signed with Alabama or LSU if his grades were in line coming out of high school.

 

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