Jalon Walker has set his commitment date, and it’s coming up fast.
The four-star outside linebacker announced Monday that he would make his pledge on March 28 with a final six of Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio State.
It is highly unlikely that the Salisbury, N.C., prospect ends up at Alabama, so the Crimson Tide are not included below. Clemson is considered the frontrunner, but North Carolina and the others are still battling for his commitment.
A Rivals100 linebacker and the second-best prospect in the state of North Carolina (behind only five-star defensive tackle Travis Shaw), Walker is going to be a big-time commitment for one school on his list.
In today’s Making The Case, experts from around the Rivals network present an argument as to why those schools could – or could not – end up getting Walker in their recruiting class.
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“Clemson has had a lot going for it in the Walker chase from the get-go, and the fact that he is ready to call his recruitment before sanctioned visits open seems another affirmation in that direction. Walker attended the Dabo Swinney Camp for three straight summers, so there’s a lengthy relationship of comfort with the people there, and that includes a connection to veteran defensive end K.J. Henry and his family. The Tigers have the blend of national profile and proximity that his other suitors can’t match, and Mike Jones’ recent transfer further magnifies the depth chart need at his recruited position.
“Clemson has tended to get the ones it has wanted out of North Carolina during the Dabo Swinney era, including Trenton Simpson and Will Shipley most recently. Walker looks like he could be the latest example.” – Paul Strelow, TigerIllustrated.com
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“There’s definitely a place for a player of Walker’s sizable talent and frame on Georgia’s roster, and the Bulldogs have done a strong job in giving him priority status throughout his recruitment. Assistant coaches Dan Lanning and Glenn Schumann and head coach Kirby Smart have all been involved in the recruitment, as well, pointing to how the Bulldogs feel about his skill level.
“Still, for all the overtures and effort, I’ve never gotten the sense that the Bulldogs were atop the list. Instead, I tend to think Walker lands a bit closer to home, opting for either the Tar Heels or the Clemson Tigers.” – Jake Reuse, UGASports.com
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“UNC has been doing very well the last few years in-state, so the lure of playing for the home team and being a part of building the Heels into a top program is intriguing. He is the type of recruit the Heels must land to dethrone Clemson.” – Deana King, TarHeelIllustrated.com
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“Although the Buckeyes have commitments from three prospects listed as outside linebackers, the program has continued to prioritize Walker ever since it offered him in May 2020. Assistant coaches Al Washington and Kevin Wilson spoke with him on Feb. 1, the first day college coaches could call junior prospects. On top of having a great relationship with the staff, Walker communicates with several members of OSU’s 2022 class, and believes the future is bright in Columbus.
“Some will say the commitments of CJ Hicks, Dasan McCullough and Gabe Powers will impact Walker’s consideration of Ohio State, but I don’t believe that to be the case. Powers could very well end up filling in as a defensive end at the next level, and McCullough will play a hybrid safety/outside linebacker role in college, so position clustering won’t be an issue for Walker. It will be tough to lure Walker away from the Carolinas, especially Clemson, but the Buckeyes have recruited him as well as they could have to this point.” – Joseph Hastings, BuckeyeGrove.com
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“Auburn got in on Walker early. Travis Williams was one of the first to start recruiting Walker, building a relationship with the four-star as a sophomore. Walker is very familiar with Auburn. He is not, however, very familiar with the Tigers’ new coaching staff. Williams no longer is at Auburn as he’s the defensive coordinator at UCF, so relationships have had to be started from scratch.
“Auburn’s new coaching staff re-offered Walker in January, but has had limited time to build bonds. It also doesn’t help that Walker has yet to visit Auburn. The Tigers remain in the hunt, but how much so remains to be seen.” – Jeffrey Lee, AuburnSports.com
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“When Clemson wants someone the Tigers almost never lose out, and Walker has been a top target for some time. Getting into the state of North Carolina has not been an issue, either, as the Tigers took the top two players in the state from there last recruiting cycle, and there’s a good chance it could happen again this cycle with Shaw and Walker.
“North Carolina has been doing a tremendous job under coach Mack Brown on the field and in recruiting, plus the Tar Heels had a loaded 2021 linebacker class and are off to a good start in 2022. But Clemson rarely loses in these situations. North Carolina and Ohio State are threats, but either would be a surprise and I see Walker picking Clemson at the end of the month. – Adam Gorney, National Recruiting Director