SALISBURY, NC – All-American LB Jalon Walker checks all the boxes for an architect of any championship-aspiring defense in America. He even has a few unique boxes to his story.
- Oustanding 4.0 student who has a promising college future outside of athletics
- His life’s path will involve his lifelong goal of becoming an orthodontist after football
- Explosive athlete who excelled at basketball and even won a dunk contest at his school as a freshman
- Son of a Division II college football head coach at Catawba College
- Named to the Under Armour All-American game for 2022
- Ranks as the nation’s No. 4 OLB and the No. 50 overall recruit on the 247Sports Composite ratings
- Plans to enroll early
- Definite makeup of a future team captain (See Nakobe Dean, Azeez Ojulari, D’Andre Swift and Andrew Thomas)
In what could be termed as at least a moderate upset, he committed to Georgia over Clemson and North Carolina on Sunday from a small ceremony at St. John’s Church in his hometown. Walker also carried a final six which also included Alabama, Auburn and Ohio State.
Walker makes this decision just three days after the Bulldogs got a big recruiting win by pulling 5-star ATH Malaki Starks out of a tough battle with those same Clemson Tigers. Starks became the third-highest rated commitment in the Georgia class. Walker is now the fourth-highest rated recruit in the class.
If we’re being honest, we cannot ignore the timing of those two decisions this week. These two young men seem like anchor commits for this class both on and off the field. Especially for any championship-level defense.
Jalon Walker: The many reasons why he is now “a ‘Dawg”
The 6-foot-2.5, 225-pound hyperathletic LB knew he was a Bulldog about 10 days prior to today’s reveal.
Georgia had the pedigree he was looking for with developing top-shelf LBs at the college level. When the Bulldogs placed Dean and Monty Rice on the Butkus Award semifinal watch list last fall, it caught his attention. That doubled down on the reputation established by former top 10 pick Roquan Smith at UGA.
“What came down to Georgia was the area where I can be the most successful in the ‘backer room,” he said. “Their history on ‘backers. Everything about the program, in general, fits me to the best of my ability to have the opportunity to go the next level.”
He values the academics at UGA plus the stability of the coaching staff. There was also a clear admission he just saw himself playing for Georgia inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann.
Walker said Schumann had some “drip” that impressed him over countless recruiting FaceTimes or Zooms. The irony here is he’s never met Schumann before.
What is he going to tell him now after the word is out?
“I think my first words to him are going to be ‘Go Dawgs, you know?” Walker said. “I like that saying. It fits me.”
His Salisbury Hornets were on the road Friday night in a game played on a muck-saturated field. It does serve as a reminder to many that North Carolina is making up their fall 2020 season this spring.
“Last night in our game one of our coaches said ‘we all have got to be ‘Dawgs’ and in my mind, I’m like ‘I’m a ‘Dawg. I’m a ‘Dawg. I’m a ‘Dawg for sure,” Walker said.
Walker is a three-down LB if we’ve ever seen one. That’s why he is rated as an OLB by the recruiting services even if he does not possess the ideal height and length to play out on the edge. He’ll be in Schumann’s room to start out his career at UGA and likely play there on the first and second down.
That’s just a projection, though. Walker has told DawgNation in the past that the Bulldog never identified a clear position for him and his vast set of skills. That had to be seen as a plus for this recruitment plan, too.
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Jalon Walker: What impresses Salisbury coach Bryan Hinson
Salisbury coach Bryan Hinson knows the Walker family well. He’s played under his father Curtis Walker at Catawba College and also served as a graduate assistant on the staff with him at Coastal Carolina.
“The first thing you start with here is something that I think it does matter,” Hinson said. “He’s one of the best kids you will ever meet. Just an outstanding young man. The second thing is it doesn’t matter what you sign him to play or where you take him to play, he’s going to get on the field He’s going to make plays for you wherever he is at.”
That speaks to the positional versatility here for Walker to line up in a variety of roles on the Georgia defense. Think of all the innovative things that are going around this spring camp regarding Adam Anderson.
Walker is actually playing this month with a big club on his hand. It has not deterred him. He’s still making plays everywhere despite that hand injury. It is expected to come off very soon, Walker said.
It came in a big early game. With him in the lineup, his Hornets held the opponent to negative yards in the first half. When the injury occurred, that changed.
“He didn’t play in the second half and they ran wild without him on the field,” Hinson said. “We missed him. The next week, he didn’t play but he came back two weeks later. We had to club it up because of the hand injury. The crazy thing is last week we almost had a scoop-and-score fumble recovery for a touchdown.”
That was with his one good hand. Walker speared the ball like he had a pitchfork and narrowly missed six points right by the goal. He was forced out of bounds.
“We also snapped him a fake punt,” Hinson said. “He caught that and went for 15 or 20 off that.”
There’s a lot to like here about an A-plus recruit. Think about that for a second. The linebacker’s number is called on a fake punt. The fact that he is basically one-handed is not a deterrent.
“He just finds a way to make it happen,” Hinson said.
There’s a lot to like here about an A-plus recruit.
“The thing I really love here is the intensity that he plays with on a Friday night he practices with it on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as well,” Hinson said.
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What Jalon Walker’s decision now means for UGA
Walker has a fantastic story and will be a great ambassador for Georgia in the years to come. He’s a front-and-center in front of the cameras on SEC Media Days-level prospect. Easily.
That’s on the surface level. The drone flyover view of this matter here shapes up nicely for Georgia fans.
- The decision here in a head-to-head out-of-state battle with Clemson and North Carolina looms large. Especially with the season opener with the Tigers coming up in September. Walker had been recruited by Clemson for four-plus years and attended football camps with the program after his eighth, ninth and 10th-grades in school.
- Walker is now the 10th commitment for 2022. He becomes the second out-of-state commitment in this class. Both of those are on defense.
- That makes it clear that UGA’s national reputation on defense is at the top of the board. Even in a COVID-19 recruiting setting.
- It begs the question: Is Georgia recruiting in the pandemic right now as well as it ever has?
- Ohio State is still chugging along at an optimum level. Walker’s decision keeps the Bulldogs at No. 2 nationally on the 247Sports Team Composite ratings. That said, the Buckeye hold on the No. 1 spot has been lessened considerably.
- As stated previously, he becomes the fourth-highest rated commitment in the class. There are three of those four names set to play at least the majority of their snaps on the defensive side of the ball. That number flexes out to nine of 10. Gunner Stockton, the 5-star QB, is the highest-rated member of the 2022 class at this time at No. 20 overall.
- The onus for Georgia over the next few months will be securing the commitments of some impact talents on the offensive side of the ball. We certainly realize that’s a chorus that Georgia fans are used to hearing by now. Especially with where the state of the program is right now and the profiles of all the most recent college football national champions of late.
We will end this narrative with perhaps something more head-shaking than Georgia posting another big win on the recruiting trail in Tar Heels and Tigers County.
That’s the unique position of the Georgia brand in Rowan County in Upstate North Carolina. Walker is on his way to Georgia. Yet so is the biggest recruit in the history of Salisbury High School soccer.
That would be Sutton Webb. She’s had games of five, six and seven goals in her career. That Class of 2022 prospect also committed to the G back in August.
“She’s just really fast,” Walker said. “Always really fast. She was actually faster than me for a time.”
She still might be. It sounds like we’d have to see that match race.
Check out how fast Walker is on the field in his sophomore highlight reel below. There will be a lot for the Charlotte chapter of the Georgia Bulldog Club and the UGA Alumni Association to be proud of here.
(the recent reads on DawgNation.com)
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