JACKSONVILLE – River Walker enters his senior season at a new place much like last year. After spending his first two high school years at 2A University Christian, he moved to 5A Ridgeview last season and now finds himself at 8A Mandarin this past winter. He’s ready for the opportunity.
Walker is a 6’2″, 192-pounder who tossed 10 touchdowns and 1,366 passing yards at Ridgeview last season. The main reason why he switched to Mandarin was due to family issues and transportation. Either way, he comes to a school that finished 12-1 last season and made a trip to the region final before losing 41-26 to West Orange.
“Winning the starting quarterback spot in the spring is a great thing because everyone knows what it feels like to get that far and the feeling they had when they lost to West Orange,” Walker said.
“So as a leader of the team I can strive for excellence and push others to be the best they can be and use that anger from the loss and build on that to be in Orlando next season playing for a state championship.”
Now, Walker will get to learn from a former NFL player in quarterback Quinn Gray. Gray played four seasons (2005-08) in the NFL between Jacksonville and Kansas City and now takes over the post after three-year head coach Brian Braddock left for St. Augustine. So far, so good for Walker and Gray.
“I enjoy playing for coach Gray and his coaching staff a lot because they are great men and great leaders. I especially enjoy learning from coach Gray because of his experience in college and in the NFL…
“I value the fame of football and want to get to where he has been so the best way to do that is pick his brain and learn from him himself.”
Walker has tacked on 22 lbs. since last season ended and is aiming to get to 205 lbs. by the end of the summer. He says he’s working his butt off this off-season to improve his overall ability as a quarterback.
“I’m really focused on the mechanics. I want to be as ready as possible to get to a college and compete for the starting job right away.”
He has trained under DeBartolo Sports quarterback instructor Joe Dickinson since he entered high school. Walker says he would not be where he is today without his help.
“Coach D is a great coach. He’s one of the best, if not the best in my eyes. He has made me into the quarterback I am today. Not only a great quarterback coach but a great man by being a big influence in my life. I look up to him as a father figure he’s really been helping beyond belief.”
Another key cog in Walker’s life is older brother Ryan Walker, a quarterback coach for DeBartolo Sports. He says Ryan is his biggest role model. Ryan Walker is a hard worker and trains his brother on a daily basis.
“He has been there with me in my life and my football career through thick and thin. He’ll do anything for me in the drop of a hat. He pushes me every day to be the best I can be…
“He may not be the nicest to me all the time, but it’s all because he wants to see me use my talent that he knows I have and be a great leader to others. He’ll always be my biggest role model.”
Right now, Walker doesn’t have any offers, but he has generated interest from Troy, Florida Atlantic, Florida A&M, Valdosta State and Grambling State. He says he’d be honored to play for anyone of those schools.
Walker has made visits to various schools including Troy, North Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Central Florida and Florida International. He’s planning to take a visit to Grambling State here this summer because the coaches are interested in him to take it all in.
He says his biggest strengths are his ability to read the field, deliver the ball on time and accurately and his scrambling. Walker wants to improve his pocket presence and ability to fend off a defender.
At age 4, Walker dove into the world of football. He says he was always a shy and quiet guy on the field up until middle school came around.
“I got very confident because I was pretty good from playing with my older brothers in the neighborhood a lot. Now as a rising senior I have to take that confidence and be humble and uplift the people around me.”
Walker says his ultimate goal is to make it to the NFL, but off the field, he has even higher aspirations for off the field. He gives all the glory to God.
“Later on in life, I want to teach younger kids the game and the ways to be successful in life and on the field; as my coaches did for me and give back to the community.”
Walker may be on his third team in four seasons, but he’s as motivated and determined as they come. He has the knowledge now it’s a matter of putting it all out there for his new school.
River Walker will play on the big stage at 8A Mandarin this year and it will be fun to watch.
Favorite player to watch – Cam Newton
Favorite movies – Any Will Ferrell movie
Favorite TV show – ESPN
Fun fact about you that you think no one knows – “I like to play with my brother and act like we’re offensive lineman in a game we made up called Center Guard Tackle.”
Nickname from teammates or friends – “Lil Cam”
Game film: Walker’s Hudl tape
Jake Perper is the scout for Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to write below or email Jake at firstname.lastname@example.org.