Every time college coaches would swing through Yuma to see Cibola football practice, they couldn’t help but notice the 6-foot-6, 240-pound player catching everything and running like a deer.
Mark Walton, Cibola coach Lucky Arvizo said, was classified by coaches as “a diamond in the rough.”
After last weekend’s official visit to Arizona State, the tight end gave the Sun Devils a commitment on Monday night to play football in Tempe.
But it came after ASU came back Monday to offer a full scholarship, after initially asking Walton to grayshirt, which means he would pay his own way the first semester, and not start playing and being on scholarship in the spring of 2018.
“They offered me on Sunday morning when I met with Coach (Todd) Graham,” Walton said. “At first, there was 50-50 chance that it would be a gray-shirt. But Coach (Billy) Napier on Monday said we want to bring you in 100 percent this fall. That’s when I thought, I’m 100 percent in.
“I originally committed when they offered (with the chance of it being a grayshirt). But I thought if they really want me to grayshirt, I had my doubts about it.”
He is the 10th high school senior from Arizona to commit to ASU this year.
This latest commitment might be an indication that ASU is losing Scottsdale Saguaro tight end Jared Poplawski to another Pac-12 school on signing day. Poplawski, who committed to ASU in the summer with teammates Corey Stephens and Kyle Soelle, received an offer from Oregon two weeks ago.
“He’s definitely legit,” Arvizo said. “He is 6-6, 240 pounds. He’s just an athletic individual. This year we used him at tight end with a hand in the ground. We split him out at wide receiver with his speed, causing mismatches. We put him at outside linebacker because he covered so much ground. He is very athletic and flexible.”
He had 39 catches for 690 yards and 10 touchdowns his senior season.
On defense, he had 42 tackles, 7.5 for losses, and four sacks.
Even though Oregon State showed interest, ASU was his only Pac-12 scholarship offer.
He had other offers from San Diego State, Vanderbilt, Fresno State, South Dakota State and Florida Atlantic.
“He has room to grow, as well. Just his size and speed and agility, he can play multiple position,” Arvizo said.
Suggest human interest stories to Richard Obert at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-316-8827. Follow him at azc_obert