National Signing Day: Penn State lands elite lineman Rasheed Walker
Rasheed Walker gave Penn State’s Class of 2018 a huge boost Wednesday, signing with the Nittany Lions on National Signing Day. Here’s what you need to know about the 4-star tackle.
High School: North Point (Waldorf, Md.)
Size: 6-foot-6, 300 pounds
247Sports composite ranking: No. 6 tackle; No. 65 overall; No. 4 in Maryland
When he committed to Penn State: Feb. 7
Other college offers: Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Virginia Tech
The path to Penn State
This process went down to the wire for Walker, a U.S. Army All-American. He narrowed a deep list of college options to three — Ohio State, Penn State and Virginia Tech — as National Signing Day neared.
Walker used official visits at each school, including a Dec. 8-10 trip to Happy Valley. He was surrounded by 15 future Nittany Lions teammates while there, and those peers were relentless recruiters.
Naturally, 5-star running back Ricky Slade did his part to land a future teammate who could pave rushing lanes in State College for years. The early signee labeled Walker his No. 1 target in recent weeks.
“We’re talking to him, texting him, all of that,” Slade told Land of 10 in January. “With him being so close to me [Slade lives in Woodbridge, Va.], I can just go up there and chill with him. He’s only like an hour away from me, so I think I’m going to make the trip. I’m definitely already in his phone, though.”
Walker was a frequent visitor to Penn State during his search for the right collegiate fit. He attended the Lasch Bash barbecue on July 15 and speculation surfaced a commitment might be pending as the 2017 season approached.
Instead of issuing a late-summer decision, however, Walker extended things deep into winter. Last week, he received in-home visits from the head coach of each finalist, as James Franklin, Urban Meyer and Justin Fuente each provided a final pitch.
Though Ohio State hosted him on campus most recently, Penn State seemed to enter this final stretch with a slight lead and didn’t relinquish it as competition heated up. Walker becomes the fourth offensive lineman in this Nittany Lions’ class.
Walker is an athletic and aggressive tackle who has plenty of upside in terms of power. His long, lean frame should allow for continued physical growth, leading to greater strength as a run blocker.
Walker is far ahead of the curve when it comes to pass protection. He implements a consistent, well-placed initial punch that knocks opponents off balance, then adjusts with excellent lateral movement.
His ability to reach the second level shows on game film, as Walker puts in strong work engaging defensive linemen before pursuing linebackers or safeties as a play progresses. Continued strength training will prove key in his development as a potential multi-year starter at tackle, and he instantly supplies increased competition in the Nittany Lions’ trenches.
Walker possesses a mean streak, which is routinely apparent in the way he finishes blocks by driving the defender into the turf.
Walker will arrive on campus this summer along with the other three incoming O-linemen: Nana Asiedu, Bryce Effner and Fredrick Scruggs. Each of the others signed in December.
Under the direction of Franklin, the Nittany Lions have significantly increased depth across a talented roster. This certainly applies to the offensive trenches, which can often prove to be an elusive piece of the puzzle during personnel development.
Penn State gains a pair of top-10 tackle recruits in Asiedu and Walker, while Scruggs is considered one of the 2018 cycle’s premier interior offensive line prospects. They join rising redshirt freshmen Desmond Holmes, Robert Martin, Michael Miranda and C.J. Thorpe as part of a young foundational stockpile.
Ryan Bates and Will Fries should hold down the tackle positions for Penn State in 2018, and perhaps through 2019, but Bates’ October 2017 injury proved the importance of depth. Walker could vie for consideration on the two-deep with a strong first camp in Happy Valley, though a redshirt season may await.