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Thursday, December 13, 2012
Coach talk: LB Jonathan Walton

By Josh Moyer

With four recruits committing to Penn State over the weekend, NittanyNation decided to turn to the people who know best what they’re capable of on the field — their high school coaches.

NittanyNation polled those coaches about what separates each player, how they first noticed the player’s ability and when the player especially showcased his college potential. A different commit will be highlighted in each of the next four days.

Up today: Jonathan Walton, Daphne (Ala.) Bayside Academy
6-foot-1, 236 pounds
Unrated ILB
High school coach (quoted below): Phil Lazenby

What separates him from others at his position: "He's big at the inside linebacker position, and he's big -- 230 pounds -- for high school. Usually, you see those types of kids at college. And he has the speed to match it up. He's a 4.5 guy, so to be that big and explosive, he's worked really hard for that. And I think his size, speed and hip movement is what separates him."

When you first knew he would be something special: "I saw when he was a freshman, and he weighed 200 pounds. Some look like Tarzan and play like Jane; he looked like Tarzan and played like Tarzan, so it was easy to see that he could be very good. He worked through a couple injuries and just continued to work hard in the weight room and the track, and he turned into exactly what we thought he'd be -- a very, very good ambassador for our school and a great football player. I wasn't sure if he was going to outgrow the linebacker position, but he maintained his speed and everything growing up."

When he surprised you or really showcased his ability: "There's a lot of great plays that he had during his time here. I guess one of the things that really impressed me came in the first game of the year. We were playing a highly ranked team, at a classification above us, a much bigger school, and I remember they ran a hitch route to the outside -- he's playing MIKE linebacker -- and [the wideout] was putting a move on our corner so he could get upfield. Jonathan would come across the field and almost decapitate the kid. His explosiveness, he showed me right then that explosiveness.

"We were going against a punter that we couldn't determine which way he could kick the football, so I decided to put two returners back on the hash, and they kicked the ball to Jonathan -- and he went 74 yards untouched. I was like, 'That was really smart on my part, not having him back there sooner.' "