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Tuesday, January 15, 2013
LB Walton talks about decommitment

By Josh Moyer

Jonathan Walton (Daphne, Ala/Bayside) has quickly become a hot recruiting commodity, garnering offers from several SEC schools. But those new opportunities aren't the only reason he decommitted from Penn State.

The three-star linebacker said he received just one phone call from the Nittany Lions in the four weeks following his Dec. 9 commitment. And when his recruiting coach, defensive coordinator Ted Roof, left the university, he said Penn State's staff didn't reach out to him until Sunday -- four days after the announcement.

He discovered Roof was leaving Penn State from the media.

"It wasn't just the fact he left," Walton said Tuesday afternoon. "I just didn't know kind of where I stood. So it made me question it a little bit."

Penn State's new defensive coordinator, John Butler, traveled to Daphne, Ala., on Monday to speak with the linebacker. Walton said the talk went well, but he didn't know Butler all that well and didn't really speak with him before then.

"I was mostly talking to Coach Roof," he said, adding he hasn't heard from the coach since news of his departure to Georgia Tech. "And I'm just now talking to [Butler] because I usually talk to Coach Roof. So it's just kind of finding new people up there to talk to.

"They're still interested in me, and I'm still talking to them, but I mean... ," he added before trailing off."

Roof was tipped off about the 6-foot-1, 236-pound linebacker over the summer. Walton reportedly ran a 40-yard dash in the 4.6s at a small school near the bluffs, and Roof wasted no time in offering him a scholarship.

Penn State was the first major program to offer Walton, and the linebacker took up a part-time job so he could earn enough money to fly to PSU for a camp. But other schools started speaking with him soon after his commitment in the winter. South Carolina paid him a visit and offered him a scholarship right before the dead period. Then, in the New Year, Auburn and Tennessee followed suit with Mississippi State following close behind.

Before Roof even left, Walton scheduled an official visit to see South Carolina. He also visited Tennessee this past weekend and will see Auburn on Jan. 25.

"I had other coaches coming down and getting into my head about those schools, and the school I committed to didn't really talk to me," Walton said. "So I really questioned where I stood."

Walton is still considering heading to Mississippi State on an unofficial visit, and he said they planned to stop by in the near future. He enjoyed his visit to Tennessee, adding he liked the new facilities and coaching staff, but declined to say if he had another favorite.

With his decommitment, Penn State now has 17 commits but remains No. 24 in the ESPN recruiting rankings. The Nittany Lions currently have two other linebacker pledges in the class with Brandon Bell (Mays Landing, N.J./Oakcrest) and Zayd Issah (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin).