Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Roll Tide-ings, a rundown of everything happening in Alabama Crimson Tide recruiting with Chris Kirschner. In this edition, we discuss the latest with Alabama linebacker commit Quay Walker.
Quay Walker didn’t want an ordinary announcement
Quay Walker, a 4-star linebacker from Crisp County High School (Cordele, Ga.), committed to Alabama in an exclusive video with SEC Country on Thursday. His plan to commit to Alabama has been in place since at least May 11.
On that day, I visited Walker at his school to catch up with him and learn where he was in his recruitment process. He told me that day that he was likely going to choose the Crimson Tide. He was clear, though, that he wasn’t going to choose Alabama until his mother could visit Tuscaloosa. She did for the first time this past weekend. It was done at that point.
Walker also told me on that day that he wanted to announce his commitment in a video because he thought posting a tweet with an edit and a note was boring.
We recently hired a full-time video director — who’s stationed at our Atlanta headquarters — so filming the video didn’t present too much of a hassle despite the 300-plus-mile round trip.
Walker called me on Monday to let me know he was ready to commit and film the video. I appeared on Tide 102.9 in Tuscaloosa on Monday and hinted at the upcoming decision. I said, “If everything goes according to plan, Alabama will have at least one commitment by the end of the week.” I was talking about Walker. I didn’t want to 100 percent say a commit was going down because I didn’t want to get scooped by another reporter who may have been listening, and recruits change their mind daily when it comes to their recruitment.
The nation’s No. 11 outside linebacker, according to 247Sports composite rankings, had already silently committed to Alabama during the time I went on the radio Monday afternoon, but he wanted to publicly announce his decision to play for the Crimson Tide in a video.
Nate Gettleman, our video director, and I arrived in Cordele, Ga., at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday and were done shooting the video at 9:45 p.m. The Crisp County staff was very courteous with its time, staying with us the entire time to open doors inside the school and turn on the stadium lights.
The final product ended up being a little more than a minute long, but we still filmed for more than 3 hours to get as many shots as we possibly could. The more clips, the better the video can turn out.
Gettleman spent the majority of his Thursday morning and afternoon editing the commitment video. We ended up editing four different versions. Walker didn’t like the ending for the first two versions, which had him place an Alabama hat on a Cougar statue outside of Crisp County’s stadium.
The video was finished at 4 p.m. ET before we decided to publish it at 6 p.m. Walker became the Tide’s third commitment in the Class of 2018. Alabama needed some momentum on the recruiting trail and the Tide got it with one of their top targets going public with his decision.
What kind of player is Alabama getting in Quay Walker?
Shelton Felton, Crisp County’s former coach, remembered the play quite vividly.
Crisp County’s basketball team was on a fast break. Walker ran the length of the floor, caught an alley-oop pass and nearly brought down the basket with the amount of force he applied to the rim.
Felton was new to Crisp County and was looking for more talent on the gridiron. He approached Walker and told him he had a better future in football.
“I told him that you can stay here [on the court] and go to Auburn State or Auburn Tech or come on the football field and by senior year, you’ll be SEC or ACC with that freaky ability,” Felton said in May.
Walker didn’t automatically buy into Felton’s pitch.
“Quay was hesitant,” Felton said. “That first year, I put him on offense. Like a little baby, you give them a little candy and we threw him the ball. Going into his junior year, I sat down with him and said, ‘If you stay on offense, you’ll be a mid-major player. If you listen to me and go on defense and play on the opposite side of Big Cat, you’ll be a Power 5 player.’”
“Big Cat” is Markaviest Bryant, who signed with Auburn in 2017. Now that Bryant is gone, a target is going to be on Walker. Crisp County defensive coordinator Jeff Kent said his job this season is to play Walker at various positions in the 3-4 defense so it’s not predictable where he’ll line up.
“I haven’t seen someone at the high school level that has the ability to do the things he can at so many different positions, especially in our defense,” Kent said. “He’s found his home at outside linebacker with us, but we can move him to inside linebacker and it would be a natural fit.”
The Alabama staff loves Walker’s versatility. He still plays tight end for the Cougars and can play almost every position on the defensive side of the ball. Even though he’s played defense for only one year, Kent said the other 10 guys on the field look to him for guidance.
“He can pick up schemes very quickly,” Kent said. “You have to know a lot to play that outside linebacker spot. He’s handled that stress very well in Year 2. He has a leadership role because he understands where others need to be.”
The transition to Alabama’s 3-4 defense shouldn’t be too difficult for Walker because Crisp’s defense is actually similar to the Tide’s.
“I don’t think there’s any way to simulate what you’re going to get with coach [Nick] Saban,” Kent said. “But, I can say that our former head coach, Shelton Felton, is a disciplinarian. He’s very structured. Our style of defense, which is Coach Felton’s, is actually based off of Alabama’s 3-4. It’s one Nick Saban has run for years. I think it will be an easier transition for him because there are going to be some kids who haven’t had that structure yet. He’s going to have that edge on some other phenomenal athletes because of this routine we have here.”
Kent believes Alabama now has its next star in the making in Walker.
“His ceiling is as high as Quay Walker wants it to be,” Kent said. “If you walked into a college locker room and he was in there, he’s not going to get lost in the shuffle. Alabama is really a great fit for him.”
Miss a previous edition? Find every post of SEC Country’s daily Roll Tide-ings recruiting notebook right here.