Idaho is a long way away from the warmth and sunshine of Florida, but that doesn’t concern Orlando Christian Prep athlete Arnell Walker, who committed to play for the Vandals on Wednesday.
He said OCP head coach Guerschom Demosthenes’ familiarity with the Idaho coaching staff and a chance to go see new places helped with his decision and he’s excited about the opportunity.
“My coach, he knew the head coach really well and I got a good feel for Idaho when I was talking to the coaches and I trusted my head coach and what he said about the coaches at Idaho,” said Walker, who can play both receiver and defensive back but will most likely end up as a cornerback in college.
“The coaches there really like me and I was talking to my parents and they were OK with it, so I made my decision.”
As for the distance away from home, which 2,848 miles from Orlando, Walker said that doesn’t bother him.
“Honestly, I just want to get out of Florida,” said Walker, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound speedster who runs a 4.45-second 40-yard dash. “So I feel good about that.”
It will be a big climate change for Walker with the average temperature during football season being about 45 degrees and the annual snowfall average in Moscow, Idaho, is 49 inches. Walker laughed at the suggestion that he will now have to learn how to snow ski.
“Oh yeah, gotta have some fun with that,” he said.
Last season at OCP, on offense Walker carried the ball 38 times for 283 yards and five touchdowns. He also caught seven passes for 83 yards and two more TDs. On defense, he averaged five tackles per game and had four interceptions.
“I can play receiver or corner. It doesn’t matter to me,” Walker said. “I’ll just play what’s best for the team. I can do whatever. It’s not a problem.”
He picked Idaho over offers from Bowling Green and Northern Illinois, and he said Western Kentucky and Ohio seemed to be close to offering a scholarship, as well.
“It feels good. He relieves the stress off of me and I can just concentrate on helping my team win the championship,” Walker said. “That’s my main goal, just helping my boys so we can make it to the show.”
OCP, which competes in Florida’s Class 2A for football and has an enrollment of just 400 students, has some talent and proved that in shellacking Orlando’s University High, a Class 8A school, in the spring game 48-0.
Wide receiver Xavier Weaver has gotten the most recruiting attention with offers from Football Bowl Subdivision schools like East Carolina, Middle Tennessee State, Texas-San Antonio, Troy and Wake Forest. Running back Jalen Carr would likely have offers if not for his 5-foot-9, 170-pound frame, while senior linebacker Shamar Hill and junior athlete Barry Wagner Jr., and junior linebacker Gabe Tejada have also drawn attention.
“We feel really good about the season. We feel like we’re going to come out and show what we got,” Walker said. “We have alot of targets on our backs and everybody knows about us, but I really feel like we’re going have a successful year this year.
“We surprise people and it feels good. We just show that we can do everything the other schools are doing. We’re just at a smaller school.”