A month and a half ago, linebacker Quay Walker wasn’t even thinking about Tennessee. But once the Vols hired away Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt to become their next head football coach, Walker suddenly took an interest in the Volunteers.
Then when another of the top outside linebackers in the 2018 class committed to the Vols in January, Walker became even more intrigued.
Right now, Walker is still committed to Alabama verbally. But according to an interview he did with Jesse Simonton of Rivals.com, Pruitt leaving the Tide and joining the Vols has changed things up in a big way for him.
“I have a great relationship with everyone up there,” Walker said in the interview. “Everything was nice from the facilities, the people; I enjoyed it. It shocked me with everything. The only reason I went up to Tennessee was because of coach Pruitt, but I just believe in everything they’re about to do.
“I know Tennessee will be back on the right track in the next year or the year after that.”
Walker is a four-star linebacker out of Cordele, Georgia. He is the No. 65 overall player in the countr according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, and those ratings also have him as the No. 3 outside linebacker in the 2018 class. J.J. Peterson, who committed to the Vols a week and a half ago, is the No. 2 outside linebacker in the class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
Peterson was there with Walker, and he had an influence on the 6-foot-4, 236 pound linebacker.
“I didn’t really know JJ until the Big Cat weekend at Auburn,” Walker stated, “and ever since then we’ve been talking. Our relationship is getting better and better.”
Walker likes Peterson, and he has a strong relationship with Pruitt. All of that has helped sway Walker more and more towards the Vols, and now the Alabama commit says Tennessee has vaulted up above many other schools in his recruitment.
“Tennessee has made its up way,” he claimed. “Tennessee is a school that I’m considering very, very strongly right now.”
His relationship with Tennessee’s new coaches are what stand out to Walker the most. And that’s why the Vols have jumped up to near the top of his list.
“I got people I can trust down here. That’s the main thing,” Walker added. “They pretty much said since it’s new coaches and everything that everybody got to come in there and compete. I’d be up there competing with the ones and everything. I’m looking forward to it.”
Peterson is currently the Vols’ only linebacker commit in the 2018 class. Tennessee didn’t sign a linebacker in their early signing period, though JUCO defensive end Jordan Allen could very well play linebacker. The Vols need more and different types of linebackers to play in Pruitt’s 3-4 defensive scheme, and Walker projects to fit perfectly into that scheme with his size and athleticism.
Walker still has visits with Alabama and Auburn on the horizon. Tennessee will have to battle hard to land Walker, but the Vols have made up considerable ground thanks to the hire of Pruitt and addition of Peterson to their 2018 class.