The Class of 2019 is a mere 37 months away from enrolling at UGA. By and large, interest in the recruitment of even the class’ top players rarely moves the dial.
Offers are popping up left and right, and it can be hard for 2019 recruits to generate their own buzz when so much attention is focused on top-tier prospects who are considering UGA in the 2017 and 2018 classes.
That said, the name Travon Walker is one that should zoom high up on the DawgNation wish list. He officially became one of the most talented players on UGA’s radar about 10 days ago.
Walker’s value to UGA calls for an exception to the idea that no one wants to read about 15-year-old kids. It further illustrates that UGA will no longer pump the brakes on offering a deserving kid just because of his grade level.
Walker, a defensive line prospect measuring at 6-foot-4 and 246 pounds, burst onto the scene May 6 when he received his UGA offer — his first college offer, although it was not widely reported until last week.
The rising sophomore (Upson-Lee High School / Thomaston, Ga.) then visited UGA on Saturday with his family. He learned the offer is already committable from Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart.
“They want me to be the first one to commit in 2019,” Walker said. “It is something that could happen, but I need more time to think about that.”
What did the 6-foot-4, 246-pounder like the best about the visit?
“The attention,” said Walker, who already needs a size-14 cleat. “They gave me a lot of attention.”
A specific message from Smart stood out.
“He said I was already a good athlete, but I’m young,” Walker said. “I can’t let this offer get to my head and stop working while other players get better than me.”
He’s eons away from a signing day, but count on Georgia being a major contender all the way. UGA is his only major offer and it was his first. He also picked up another offer on Thursday from Appalachian State.
A few attributes jump right out for the freshman defensive lineman:
- When he was measured at UGA, his reach was in the 78-inch range. He was told that was longer than the wingspan of former UGA linebacker Leonard Floyd, who was just taken with the No. 9 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
- Walker averaged 14 points and 14 rebounds this winter starting at center for the Upson-Lee varsity basketball team. He plays AAU basketball above his age level, can dunk and had a 28-point game at a recent event. The family looks at both sports hand-in-hand to help cultivate and enhance key physical attributes.
- Walker already works out with UGA Class of 2016 signee David Marshall. They threw the shot put together on the Upson-Lee track team this spring. Walker can already power the shot 43 feet, 6 inches. That effort would have placed him in the Top 20 in almost every classification at the state track meet this year.
- His father’s family has relatives that top out at the 6-foot-9 mark. His mother’s side has a relative who is about 6-foot-6. The expectation is he could easily top out at the 6-foot-7 mark and weigh around 275 pounds when he is a senior.
- The coaches at UGA already noticed how well he can move and how athletic he is at that size. He will play some tight end as a sophomore at Upson-Lee this fall with that athletic ability. He moved up to the varsity after playing seven junior varsity games in 2015 and was able to earn a spot on the field playing behind Marshall.
- Tommy Parks, his coach at Upson-Lee, coached former UGA linebacker Jordan Jenkins at Harris County. He already sees a lot of similarities between the two players.
- Marshall’s older sister still holds the Upson-Lee school record for girls in the shot put. Another sister was also very fast in the sprinting events, too.
Parks broke down what he sees in Walker in detail.
“The thing about Trayvon first off is he’s a very humble kid first off and then he has several great attributes,” Parks said. “He’s got a great motor and obviously physically he fits the mold. But you can still have the body and not have the drive, but he definitely has that. It is fun to watch somebody with those God-given talents and ability as far as football goes. But he also uses all of that with a great motor and he’s an aggressive kid who understands the necessity of coming to practice every day and working hard and building on his craft and wanting to get better.”
His coach made sure to note Walker’s agility and coordination on the hardwood.
“You get to really see what kind of athlete he is on the basketball court,” Parks said. “Sometimes you can hide your athleticism you may or may not have on the football field, but you can’t hide that on that basketball court. You are either an athlete or you are not.”
Stead Walker, his father, already provides a heavy dose of stability and support. He’s an assistant coach on the girls basketball team at Upson-Lee and also serves as the resource office for the alternative school in the district.
“It is a blessing for him to already be offered and have this attention,” his father said. “My wife and I just pray that he will continue to be humble and just learn from all of it. Hopefully we can pray about it and make the right decision as a family. What is foremost is his education and then wherever he will be able to play at and be able to have fun at the same time.”
His parents had the opportunity to meet with the team’s educational counselor at UGA. They were impressed by the academic support system. Walker is already a fine student.
“He is very well-rounded as far as academics go,” Parks said. “As far as the makeup of a kid, he reminds me a lot of Jordan Jenkins who played for me at Harris County. Jordan was a great athlete but also a great student and had a great drive in practice. Loved to compete. I see a whole lot of the same things in Trayvon at this stage.”
Walker already has his eyes on a sports medicine and criminal justice major. He’s basically made all A’s so far in high school.
“I asked him what his worst subject was and he said Math,” Parks said. “But I know he’s got an ‘A’ in there so that’s pretty good for him so far.”
Stead Walker also noticed a “family” environment at UGA.
“They seem to have the kid’s best interest at heart and not just their ability to be an athlete on the field but also a productive citizen off the field,” he said.
The Walker family has also been Bulldogs fans for quite some time.
“We have definitely been Georgia fans,” Steed Walker said. “I can go back to Herschel Walker’s days and all of that. In fact, I think Trayvon’s first football team in flag football was the Bulldogs.”
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges. Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.