It’s official: One of Indiana’s biggest recruiting coups of the decade is inked. Ronnie Walker will be a Hoosier.
Four-star running back Ronnie Walker announced his commitment to Indiana this afternoon, picking the Hoosiers over Virginia and Michigan State. The Virginia native’s the country’s 13th best backfield prospect, and he’ll instantly becomes Indiana’s top recruit in the 2018 class. Walker was being chased by a wide group of programs, including an in-state Virginia team that went all-in on the Hopewell High School back. Just two seasons removed from the CFP, the Spartans could’ve offered Walker early playing time.
Still, he’s coming to Bloomington — mostly because of new running backs coach Mike Hart.
This signing is a huge deal for Indiana moving forward. Here’s why.
Walker’s the first big get for new Indiana running backs coach Mike Hart, who replaced ace recruiter Deland McCullough this past offseason — and it should emphatically quell any concern about the future of the running back position on Mike DeBord’s new offensive staff. McCullough, who departed Bloomington for USC, was responsible for the recruitment and development of Indiana turned NFL backfield stars like Tevin Coleman & Jordan Howard in Bloomington -- and it was more than fair for Hoosier fans to have concern about the future of a critical position. Hart’s name recognition from relatively recent his days in Ann Arbor & three-year NFL stint with the Colts wasn’t worthless, but he came to Bloomington as a 30-year-old with a single year of FBS coaching experience.
But now, Hart’s first recruit in Walker comes to Bloomington more highly touted than any running back in McCullough’s tenure — and any in recent memory. According to 247Sports’ tabulations, Walker would be Indiana’s 5th highest rated recruit ever since 2000 — just behind Dominque Booth, Taj Williams, and Darius Latham. Walker’s commitment looks even more impressive when context is considered. Booth and Latham were in-state recruits, and Williams never played a down at Indiana before heading to junior college and then TCU. If Walker ends up signing in Bloomington, this is a big freaking deal. It’s something of validation of Tom Allen’s new staff and emphasizes just how important this 2017 season could be at Indiana.
It’s big for Indiana to ink a player of Walker’s caliber, even after the commitment. Highly-touted Lynn Bowden committed to Indiana last season before spurning the Hoosiers for Kentucky. 3-star local recruit Kristian Pechac, son of Indiana Director of Player Development Mike Pechac, opted out of his commitment at the running back position earlier in 2017.