With signing day just a week away, the top football players in Ohio will make their verbal commitments to their chosen schools official with a signature on a National Letter of Intent. But two of the top players in the Buckeye State, Waverly QB Trevor Walls (left) and Middletown WR Phillip Barnett, may not be putting ink to paper Wednesday.
With signing day just a week away, the top football players in Ohio and across the country will make their verbal commitments to their chosen schools official with a signature on a National Letter of Intent.
But two of the top players in the Buckeye State may not be of putting ink to paper Wednesday, Feb. 6 as neither have received any official Division I offers to play football at the next level.
Waverly quarterback Trevor Walls and Middletown wide receiver Phillip Barnett, as well as their respective coaches, are baffled as to why neither player has received a single Division I scholarship offer yet in light of their illustrious high school careers.
Walls began his high school career as a receiver before head coach Rusty Wright and the staff made the decision to move him under center. The shift proved to be successful as Walls tallied 2,052 yards passing, 26 touchdowns, five interceptions, and a 65 percent completion rate leading Waverly to a perfect 10-0 regular season as a junior.
In his senior campaign, Walls (6-6, 225) tossed for over 2,500 yards, 25 touchdowns and five interceptions earning Division V first team All-Ohio honors for the 10-2 Tigers. In two years as the starting quarterback for Waverly, the Tigers won 27 games with Walls leading the way.
He is rated as the No. 37 overall prospect in the class of 2008 by Ohio High magazine and the No. 112 quarterback in the country by ESPN.com.
But much to the surprise of Walls, Wright and recruiting gurus alike, the Southern Ohio gunslinger has yet to receive a scholarship offer.
“Trevor Walls is kid with the arm and size that every school should want,” Ohio High Recruiting Editor Duane Long said. “That he has no Division I offers is one of the great mysteries. That (Arkansas QB) Ryan Mallett, a quarterback that would love to be as mobile as Walls, can get a Michigan offer and Walls cannot get any Division I offers simply amazes me.”
New Mexico State has come in on Walls in the last week or so but there is a slight hang up with the Aggies, according to Wright.
“New Mexico State really likes him, his big arm, his accuracy and they are very impressed with him although they don’t have any scholarships left for him,” he said. “The coaching staff out there and (head coach) Hal Mumme are very impressed when they have watched film on him. They can’t believe no one has offered him as well.
“But because of his academics, he qualifies for a lot of things academically. He could have an opportunity to go out there and walk on.”
Off the field, Walls is a member of the National Honor Society, president of his senior class, will most likely graduate valedictorian and is interested in studying aerospace engineering in college.
“We’re looking at a kid that has the arm strength, has the accuracy, has the touch, is super intelligent and is extremely coachable. I just don’t know,” said Wright. “What more do you want?”
Walls has a couple of Division II offers from Findlay and West Virginia Wesleyan. Some Division I programs have taken an interest, particularly after his showing on the camp circuit last summer, but none have pulled the trigger.
“It would be one thing if they didn’t know about him but he went to all his camps and had great reviews. He was pretty much on everybody’s ‘next-to’ list but the next thing you know they offer somebody else,” Wright said.
“The 7-on-7’s at Miami (Oh.), he just put a show on. He’s never gone to any camp where he’s come out of there and didn’t have great reviews. He had a tremendous camp at Indiana and at Ohio State. We didn’t think he would get out of Ohio State’s camp without someone offering him. Everywhere he has gone, people have been impressed – then nothing.”
With 4.8 speed and a big body, there has been a question about Walls’ mobility.
“He is no Vince Young but he moves around quite well,” Long said.
Walls is also an All-Ohio basketball player.
“People ask how mobile he is,” Wright said. “Just watch him play basketball and come down off a rebound on a fast break.”
Walls is averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds on the hardwood this season.
“Coaches say they want a kid who runs a 4.6,” explained Wright. “I tell them he is probably never going to run a 4.6 but he is also never going to be 6-foot tall either.”
Tucked away in the southern part of Ohio, Waverly and the surrounding areas have typically not been a hotbed of recruiting in the first place.
“I think it is a little bit of a southeast Ohio bias,” Wright said. “If you’re not from Ironton or Wheelersburg, that’s it. Those programs have earned it. But we don’t understand it. We’re totally confused by it.”
Regardless of whether Walls sees a football scholarship come his way before next Wednesday or not, he has excelled enough in the classroom to earn some academic scholarships and the opportunity to walk-on a college football team.
“In 26 years of coaching I have never been so baffled. I know kids that were borderline or there were some questions but Trevor is just not one of them,” Wright said. “It is a head scratcher. He is too good a kid and the character of this kid far outweighs his athleticism.”
What’s the Catch?
Middletown finished a dismal 4-6 this season but senior receiver Phillip Barnett had an exceptional year reeling in 53 catches for 950 yards and 14 touchdowns to lead the Greater Miami Conference in receiving.
As a junior – his first year stepping foot onto the grid iron – Barnett had 14 catches for 185 yards and three touchdowns in six games of action.
“Phillip Barnett has the biggest upside of any player in Ohio this year. He has only played two years of football but he catches with his hands, has great athleticism and he knows what to do with it after the catch,” Long said.
Rated as the No. 20 senior prospect by Ohio High magazine and the No. 203 receiver in the country by ESPN.com, Barnett (6-2, 180) is still waiting for that first offer to come in.
“He doesn’t have anything on the table and that perplexes me,” Middletown head coach Ron Johnson said. “It may go late or it could go down to the wire. If guys get blown up on wide receivers they might be coming back in pretty aggressively.”
Barnett has gotten interest from all the Midwest Athletic Conference schools in addition to Louisville, West Virginia, Cincinnati and Michigan State.
“A lot (schools) are saying they have other kids rated higher on the board or they have a JUCO kid. That’s fine – beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You have to make sure it is the right fit.”
Like Walls, Barnett is starring on the basketball court for Middletown this winter. He is averaging 10.4 points per game and 1.3 steals. He is drawing interest as a basketball recruit as well.
“I don’t know if it is a concern with basketball since he is a recruited athlete there as well,” said Johnson, “but he’s committed to football and wants to play football at the next level and beyond.”
Barnett was selected last week as one of Ohio’s top players with a roster spot for the prestigious Big 33 game scheduled for June 14 where Ohio will battled Pennsylvania’s top prep senior gridders.