Four-star Hopewell (Va.) running back Ronnie Walker committed to Indiana on Monday. His decision was notable not only because of his talent, but also because of the position he fills on the field. As a top-15 running back recruit, it’s worth considering: Is Walker the biggest Indiana football recruit of the past seven years?
That’s not a hypothetical question. Walker is ranked as the number 13 national running back recruit per 247Sports’ composite rankings. He’s also ranked as the number five overall prospect from the state of Virginia and just outside the nation’s top-300 overall prospects.
Those are very good if not jaw dropping numbers. The attention comes from the fact that Indiana just doesn’t get recruits of Walker’s caliber. It just doesn’t happen.
Just consider Indiana’s four most recent recruiting classes. The Hoosiers had only three-star recruits and below in the Class of 2017, and only one player (Juwan Burgess) in the top-400 of 247’s overall composite rankings. The Class of 2016 had two members of the top-400, but neither broke out of the three-star designation.
2015? No one in the top-500. You have to go back to 2014 to find a four-star recruit, in the form of Indianapolis Pike wide receiver Dominique Booth. The Hoosiers also had three four-star recruits in 2013, but none from 2010-2012.
Walker isn’t the highest-ranked recruit since 2010, but he may be the most important for a number of reasons. First of all, he’s a running back, and four-star running backs don’t grow on trees. Walker should be a difference maker in Bloomington from the moment he arrives, which wasn’t necessarily the case with some past primo prospects. More important? Look at here Walker hails from.
“I’m going to play as a true freshman,” Walker told the assorted media after making his announcement Monday. “The opportunity to come in early will give me that opportunity to start and start early.”
All four of the prior four-star prospects at Indiana since 2010 have played at schools in … Indiana. Walker is from Virginia, in the heart of the Eastern seaboard, proving that the Indiana coaching staff, and particularly running backs coach Mike Hart, can recruit the nation’s best from anywhere.
Walker had 14 scholarship offers, including from Michigan State, North Carolina and in-state Virginia Tech and Virginia. That he chose the Hoosiers speaks volumes about what he thinks about his future opportunities in Bloomington, and the program’s potential to take another step forward.
All of that together makes Walker a stirring contender to be the most important Indiana recruit since at least 2010. If he lives up to his potential, his impact could feel even larger still.