RB - 5'10" 185lbs - Booker T. Washington HS, Miami, FL
A player who had an interesting path on his way to Miami, Mark Walton is unquestionably one of the most talented players to join the roster in the 2015 recruiting class. Walton chose the Hurricanes over only 11 other offers, but among those he spurned were Auburn, Florida State, and Georgia.
In case you didn't know (or don't follow recruiting closely until National Signing Day), Walton was initially in the class of 2016. This was due to him being held back academically many years ago, possibly as early as elementary school. However, Walton decided during his Junior year of HS to do the work needed to recelassify to 2015 and graduate with his original class. That move, which was a closely watched drama throughout this recruiting cycle, ended up with Walton finishing the requisite work, and enrolling at Miami in May.
It was because of this 2016/2015 status that Walton didn't receive the recruiting attention that a player of his elite caliber deserved. But, that works out for Miami. Others' loss is our gain, with Walton having arguably the easiest recruitment of any player short who's come to Miami in the past 5 years.
Walton helped Booker T. Washington win the last 3 consecutive class 4A State Championship Titles, and put on an amazing show in the 2014 game. He ran through, around, over, and by defenders from Jacksonville Bolles, and also showed great hands and electric moves in the open field as a receiver, ending the game with 275 total yards and 5 total touchdowns.
Don't believe me? Just watch:
I've talked to several people close to the recruiting scene who said that Walton has been the best player on every field that he's played on since he was 11 years old. After watching that video from the 4A State Championship game, it's easy to see how they came to that conclusion.
Chance he redshirts - 1-10: 1
I almost gave him a 0 like I did for Jaquan Johnson yesterday, but I guess I can't go breaking the rules on every one of these.
Walton, like Johnson, has been singled out for his high level performance since arriving on campus. The biggest thing, for me, was hearing Brad Kaaya say that Walton "already understands pass protections". We all know he can run the ball, and catch the ball, and make people miss in the open field. But, at the collegiate level, if a RB can't effectively pass protect, or execute blitz pickups (similar, but not the same), then he's going to find himself on the bench until he can.
Not only that, but Al Golden said at ACC media days that Walton "is going to have a lot of opportunities.".
It seems from all accounts and reports that Walton can do it all, including pass pro. With that being the case, look for him to factor into the backfield with Gus Edwards, Joseph Yearby, and Trayone Gray as the Canes look to replace the most productive RB in program history, Duke Johnson.
And, just because I liked it, here's another video for you.