Long before he entered high school, Madison Prep running back Tyrese Walker embraced the role of an underdog.
For years, Walker answered critics who thought he was too small to be a running back. On Wednesday, the 5-foot-6, 190-pound Walker said yes to Idaho, the one college prepared to give him a chance to play the position at the next level.
“All the other schools recruiting me wanted me to play slot receiver and on special teams,” Walker said. “The fact that (Idaho) sees me as a running back means a lot. I believe I can play running back in college and so do they.”
Walker said he had 10 scholarship offers and listed Grambling as his other finalist. He was The Advocate’s All-Metro Class 3A and below Offensive MVP as a junior, helping Madison Prep to the Class 2A title game. As a senior, Walker ran for 1,432 yards and 20 TDs.
But There is more to Walker’s story. He is the seventh of nine children raised by single parent Tasha Walker and the first sibling to earn an athletic scholarship.
“Being able to get an athletic scholarship means a lot to me and my family,” Walker said. “I think my mom was a little sad when I signed because she knows I’ll be leaving home. But I think being away from home will help keep me focused.”
MPA basketball coach Jeff Jones added, "Tyrese has always been a kid who works to prove people wrong when they tell him he can't do something. This is the next step for him. We're happy for him and his family."
The stories of two other players who signed out-of-state scholarships, defensive lineman Tahj Brown of Donaldsonville and West Feliciana offensive lineman Zakk McKeehan, also were notable.
Brown (6-3, 256) committed to Houston and made an early recruiting visit to the school. What he saw on other unofficial visits and his conversations with Houston coach Major Applewhite, a former Catholic High standout, solidified his choice.
“The first time I went to Houston, I had a feeling and believed that is where I belong,” Brown said. “Everything I’ve seen since then has made that feeling stronger. Coach Applewhite talked to me about being from Baton Rouge and then moving to Texas (University of Texas as a player). I couldn’t wait to sign today. I stayed up late last night thinking about it.”
McKeehan (6-3, 290) of Class 3A champion West Feliciana changed his commitment from Louisiana-Monroe to Georgia Tech during a recruiting visit last weekend.
“Georgia Tech was always a team I liked when I was growing up,” McKeehan said. “At first, it was their helmets and their uniforms. But then I started to see them as good football program. They started recruiting me as a sophomore, and the visit last week really capped things off.”
Brown was not the only Donaldsonville lineman to sign Wednesday. Offensive lineman/defensive lineman Davon Wright was one of two local players who signed with Tulane. Scotlandville defensive back Dorian Camel was the other. St. James linebacker Shawn Preston (Mississippi State) was the lone Southeastern Conference signee. St. Helena athlete Troy Hurst signed with Memphis.
Two local players also signed with Louisiana Tech — Woodlawn safety Xavier Lodge and Plaquemine return specialist/receiver Wayne Toussant. Tara offensive lineman Prince Pines was the lone Louisiana player in Baylor’s signing group, while Woodlawn defensive lineman Kyron Mims signed with Ball State and Plaquemine tight end/punter Codi Willis (Nicholls State). Willis follows in the footsteps of his father, Erik, who also was a tight end at Nicholls. Erik Willis is currently a PHS assistant coach.