Big Walters starting to get big-time looks

Big Walters starting to get big-time looks

October 26th, 2012 by Ward Gossett in Sports - Preps

Brandon Walters

Photo by Angela Lewis/Times Free Press.

At 6-foot-8 with a wingspan to match, Brandon Walters has enjoyed success as a basketball player.

However, it appears that the 287-pound Howard School athlete has found that football is the sport he is most likely to pursue at the next level.

"In basketball I wouldn't always be the tallest player, and with my weight I won't always be the fastest running up and down the floor," he said. "Football is a better option. I'm big and I'm aggressive, although I know I need to get bigger and stronger and more aggressive."

All right, so who's interested?

Walters, who is flirting with a 3.0 grade point average, spent last Saturday in Knoxville, and an Austin Peay recruiter was in the stands last Friday along with Volunteers offensive line coach Sam Pittman.

"I had a great time [at UT]. I met with Coach Pittman, the defensive line coach [John Palermo] and Coach [Derek] Dooley," Walters said. "I got to see the practice facilities, the weight room and the meeting rooms, and Coach Dooley said he wanted me to come back when we could visit more and he could show me the campus."

Tennessee lost 44-13 to Alabama, but it was Walters' first exposure to big-time college football and he was impressed.

"I was overwhelmed, but during the football game I saw that you have to be aggressive on every play, that you can't take a break out there," he said.

Meanwhile, UT-Chattanooga has requested his transcripts and recruiters from Middle Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech have been by Howard.

"A lot of schools don't think they have a shot, but I told the coach from Austin Peay, 'Y'all have as good a chance as anybody else,'" Hustlin' Tigers coach Michael Calloway said. "With his size, Brandon could go to the NFL from a Division III team."

The recruiting jury had been out on Walters because of his supposed allegiance to basketball, and he played a lot of AAU basketball over the summer.

"His mom said last spring a lot of colleges had been calling her [about Brandon playing basketball], and she said he was going to Indianapolis and Florida for tournaments," Calloway said. "I just said, 'Yes, ma'am.'"

Even when the Tigers began summer practice, Calloway was uncertain which sport Walters would choose.

"He was trying to decide if he wanted to give football his all, but then he got angry. He was getting challenged," Calloway said. "You know how these kids get on Facebook and start talking about how one kid is going to destroy the next kid, and he took that challenge and he got ready. He's actually been fired up the whole time.

"Only game he didn't have a really good game was Boyd-Buchanan. That quarterback [Jim Cardwell] is hard to catch."

His failure to get a sack in that game didn't change Buccaneers coach Grant Reynolds' opinion of Walters.

"He's a Division I guy. He's quite strong and surprisingly quick. He's better on defense, in my opinion," Reynolds said.

Said Tyner coach Wayne Turner: "If he had played every year he'd be a lot better, but he's aggressive and physical and he has a lot of potential. He can make somebody a heck of a player."

Hixson coach Jason Fitzgerald said Walters was as good a player as he'd seen all season.

"When he doesn't want you to block him, you're not going to," Fitzgerald said. "When he wants to turn it on, he's the best I've seen in a long time."

According to Brainerd coach Stanley Jackson, "If he keeps the mentality of wanting to be great, he will. I've seen him dominate some of the best players in our area, and he has such an upside in growth potential and learning the game."

When asked if Walter could play big-time college football, Calloway responded, "[Tennessee's] coach says he can, and he said if he has the grades he can play right away."