Three-star WR Amorion Walker commits to Notre Dame
Hank Tierney has been coaching high school football since 1977.
The vast majority of his players throughout his career couldn’t run a 40-yard dash in less than 4.5 seconds. But he currently has one on his roster at Ponchatoula (La.) High: junior wide receiver Amorion Walker.
The 6-foot-3, 181-pound Walker runs the 40 in 4.47 seconds and owns a 3.8 GPA in the classroom. On Wednesday morning he announced a verbal commitment to Notre Dame.
“This is almost like a match made in heaven being that it’s Notre Dame,” Tierney said.
That’s why Tierney reached out to then-ND defensive backs coach Terry Joseph last summer to tell him about Walker. Joseph played for and coached with Tierney at Archbishop Shaw in Marrero, La., so Tierney had a good idea of what the Irish were looking for in prospects.
Joseph, who left for Texas earlier this year after coaching at Notre Dame the past three seasons, showed some interest in recruiting Walker as a cornerback, but wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander and offensive coordinator Tommy Rees also saw a wide receiver worth pursuing. The Irish offered Walker in November despite him being sidelined with a hamstring injury for most of his junior season.
“As soon as he got his Notre Dame offer, he kind of separated Notre Dame from everybody else,” Tierney said of Walker’s recruitment. “It was just a question of if he wanted to (commit) this early.”
Walker was able to rely on his father, Robert, and uncle, Reggie, for some guidance throughout the recruiting process. Robert played football at Mississippi State and Reggie, who recently finished his rookie season as an outside linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals, played at Kansas State.
Despite his combination of size, speed and pedigree, Walker still remained under the radar as a national prospect with an offer list highlighted by Florida State, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, West Virginia and Arkansas. 247Sports slates Walker as the No. 92 wide receiver in the 2022 class. Rivals did not include him in its ranking of the top 75 wide receivers in the class.
In the state of Louisiana alone, 247Sports pegs 32 players ahead of Walker in the 2022 class. LSU, which typically signs most of the top players in Louisiana, has yet to offer. The Tigers should be well aware of Walker, too, as LSU wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph, Terry’s cousin, also played for Tierney.
As a sophomore at Ponchatoula, Walker caught passes from quarterback TJ Finley, who started five games as a freshman this past season at LSU. Walker recorded 33 receptions for 686 yards and four touchdowns that season. He followed that up last year with just eight receptions for 80 yards and two touchdowns in less than three full games because of his hamstring injury.
“I think LSU, among others, will end up recruiting him if he stays healthy,” Tierney said. “Knowing Amorion like I do, I believe Amorion will definitely honor his commitment.”
That will be worth monitoring if LSU ends up offering Walker just like it was for Notre Dame with 2021 running back signee Logan Diggs. The three-star recruit from Archbishop Rummel in Metairie, La., committed to Notre Dame last July, but the Tigers unsuccessfully tried to steal him away with a late offer in December.
The Irish have upped their recruiting successes in Louisiana since signing defensive tackle Jerry Tillery out of Shreveport in 2015. Tillery was the first Louisiana recruit to enroll at Notre Dame since cornerback Albert Poree in 1998. The Irish added wide receivers Michael Young in 2017 and Lawrence Keys III in 2018 from the Bayou State before recruiting Diggs and now Walker.
The addition of Walker gives Notre Dame nine commitments in the 2022 class. Walker became the first wide receiver in the class and joined quarterback Steve Angeli, running back Jadarian Price, tight end Jack Nickel and linemen Ty Chan and Joey Tanona on the offensive side.
The nine-member class ranks No. 6 and No. 7 nationally according to 247Sports and Rivals, respectively.
The verdict on whether Notre Dame found a diamond in the rough or made an unnecessary reach for Walker won’t be decided until years down the road, but count recruiting analyst Tom Lemming as someone sold on the Irish decision.
Lemming has seen Walker only on film and is scheduled to meet him in person Sunday as part of his recruiting travels. That’s something that even Notre Dame’s coaches haven’t been allowed to do because of the NCAA recruiting dead period that’s been in place since last March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“He has good length, good speed and he’s a very good athlete,” Lemming said. “He has All-American type ability. It’s a good catch for them.
“He’s not getting as much publicity as you think he would. I’m anxious to see him in person.”