Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Monday, October 14, 2013

By Sammy Batten

Tidewater pipeline still flowing

Prep star Walton grooming for 'stand-up' linebacker slot

By Sammy Batten
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Tapping into established relationships around the Tidewater area of Virginia has paid big dividends for East Carolina recently, especially at Ocean Lakes High School in Virginia Beach.

Over the last three years the Pirates have signed offensive tackle/tight end Chaz Lowery and defensive lineman Demetri McGill from Coach Chris Scott's Ocean Lakes squad. They returned to the Ocean Lakes talent pool last fall and came away impressed with one Masaddiq Walton.

"The relationship with East Carolina had been built a couple of years before,'' Scott said. "Masaddiq played on the defensive line with Demetri last year and they are close teammates. They live in the same neighborhood and their mothers conversate back and forth. So he (Walton) started to hear about visits and the players and coaches at East Carolina while Demetri was going through the (recruiting) process.

"Plus, (ECU assistant head/inside linebackers) Coach (John) Wiley just has been persistent in recruiting here. He's established as a familiar face in our school and with our players.''

Walton, a 6-foot-3, 240-pounder who has been timed at 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash, plays offensive left tackle and defensive end for the Dolphins. Wiley quickly recognized his athletic talent and invited him to ECU's summer camp, where he earned a scholarship offer from the Pirates in June. Walton eventually committed to ECU over an offer from Navy in August.

"He just fell in love with the football atmosphere down there,'' Scott said. "The fans and the college are great.''

With a college decision behind him, Walton has been able to concentrate on his senior year at Ocean Lakes. The Dolphins are off to a 5-0 start and Walton has been a key contributor to that success.

"He's having a great year for us,'' Scott said. "He's done everything we expected and hoped for as a senior in regards to leadership on and off the field. It sounds cliché, but for us to have a great year our seniors have to have their best seasons. I think he's doing that right now.

"He's starting both ways, at left tackle and defensive end. He's going to end up playing a stand-up (outside) linebacker for ECU. We've been able to move him around a lot, including playing him at fullback in short-yardage situations.''

This marks Walton's third full season on the Ocean Lakes varsity. He saw most of his playing time as a freshman on the junior varsity squad, but dressed and traveled every Friday with the varsity. As the season wore on, Walton eventually saw some limited action with the varsity, too.

"When we got him as a freshmen it was one of those things where, 'Do we play him (on varsity) because he has good size?''' Scott said. "He came in bigger than most of the other kids, so we started out by sticking him on the offensive line with the JVs at first. All of a sudden we realized this young man wasn't just big, he was also athletic.

"You can see he has the build. He's really cut up in his shoulders and chest. He's physically built and looks like a linebacker. But then he started showing that athletic ability. In seven-on-sevens, he'd line up as a linebacker and cover our receivers. Then, on the offensive line he'd be blocking these 300-pound guys.''

Walton became a varsity starter as a sophomore and hasn't missed a beat since. He produced seven quarterback sacks as a junior, but was mostly overshadowed by McGill and fellow end Tony Baird, who had 16 sacks as the Dolphins advanced to the state finals before falling, 14-10, against Bird High School. It was the only loss of the season for 14-1 Ocean Lakes.

This season the Dolphins have state championship aspirations again, and Walton will be a pivotal player in getting them to the finals.

"He's made some incredible plays this year on both sides of the ball,'' Scott said. "He's so powerful when he blocks. He'll pull around, and he doesn't just move somebody out of the way. He explodes into them like he's hitting a blocking sled.

"On the defensive side, he made a play a week or so ago where he was double-teamed. But using his strength and technique, he defeated both blockers, then ran down the quarterback. He used all these skill sets on one play. To me, that play sticks out and is a great example of what kind of athlete he is.''

Scott believes Walton will be ready to earn some early playing time with the Pirates next fall, like McGill has done this season.

"Demetri has seen some unexpected playing time and we're really proud of him,'' Scott said. "Masaddiq is so competitive, I know he'll do all he can to get on the field. When we do our running, he never goes by the offensive or defensive line times. He goes by the linebacker or running back standards. That's just how competitive he is.

"I know the college transition will be difficult. But he has the size and the speed to work through it. I think he'll be ready to play.''

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10/13/2013 08:31 PM