With the spring evaluation period underway, the Longhorns have begun to identify potential 2011 targets and a quarterback who has caught the eyes of Texas is J.W. Walsh, who, as only a sophomore, led Denton Guyer to the 4A state semifinals, reversing the fortunes of a team that had a record of 1-19 over the previous two seasons. Inside Texas stopped by John H. Guyer High School and talked with J.W. and his father, Coach John Walsh, about recruiting, their trip to Texas and more.
When you’re a high school coach in the state of Texas, deciding whether or not to start your own son at quarterback can be a very difficult decision, especially when he’s just a sophomore.
“I still had some question marks, physically, about him being able to do it as a sophomore, but his mental capacity, even as a freshman, was above and beyond,” said John Walsh. “So I knew he’d be able to lead the huddle and manage the offense.”
Lead is exactly what his son, J.W. Walsh, did.
Over the 2006 and 2007 seasons, the Denton Guyer Wildcats had a collective record of 1-19. But in 2008, Walsh led his team to the state semifinals, finishing with a 12-3 record.
J.W. told Inside Texas he was initially nervous stepping into the varsity huddle as the starter, but that it became easier as he got into the flow of the game. It was also easy because his teammates were all behind him.
“It’s just like that in our locker room. We’re all real close and we go into the huddle like we’re all the same age,” said J.W.
Along with leading his team into the playoffs, some of his best games of the year were in the postseason.
In the quarterfinals against Wollforth Frenship, Walsh brought his team back from a 21-0 deficit to win 37-35. The Wildcats scored 16 points in the fourth quarter, including a 34-yard touchdown pass from Walsh. He finished the game 17-of-28 for 243 yards with one pass TD and one rush TD.
Even when Denton Guyer lost in the semis to Longview, 41-30, Walsh still had a tremendous game, throwing for 267 yards and two touchdowns on 19-of-30 passing and rushing for 137 yards on 22 carries. Despite Walsh’s strong performance, the Wildcats couldn’t contain Longview quarterback Aaron Johnson (cousin of current Longhorn Vondrell McGee), who threw four touchdown passes and rushed for a fifth.
Thanks to the especially strong finish to his sophomore season, Walsh has already started to receive a great deal of interest, including from Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, BYU, Florida and Nebraska. Among the teams that are taking a close look at the 6-2, 185-pound quarterback is Texas, which brought Walsh down to Austin for the spring game.
“They called my dad and they told him that they wanted to see us at the spring game and when they said that we were pretty excited about it, that Texas was actually interested and having me come see the game,” said Walsh.
J.W. and the rest of the prospects in attendance were shown around the Longhorns’ facilities and given a feel for the college atmosphere before watching the team close out spring with the Orange-White Scrimmage. Walsh enjoyed the visit very much, but doesn’t have anything close to a favorite school right now because growing up he couldn’t settle on one team.
“I would (have a favorite) for about a month and then it would change,” said Walsh. “So I never had a set favorite.”
Because of this, he’s approaching the recruiting process with mostly a blank slate. As for what he’ll look for in a team, Walsh said the style with which a team plays is important.
“The sets and style of offense is a big one. Tradition is another big one and the facilities as well,” said Walsh.
Of course, the style that suits Walsh is very flexible. He’d obviously like to play for a team that throws the football, but he doesn’t have a preference for either shotgun or under center because he’s switched so much at Denton Guyer.
“I would say our offense is extremely complex,” said John Guyer. “It’s multi-formational where we’re
about 60 percent gun, 40 under center. It’s all he knows. We’ve never been just a spread team or an under center team.”
Walsh was one of a large number of 2011 prospects at the Texas spring game, but the attention he’s started getting from major D-I schools has been more than just passing interest. Assistant coaches have been calling his father to inquire about the talented QB.
“I’ve talked to Coach (Greg) Davis down there at Texas, Coach (Josh) Heupel at OU and to Oklahoma State,” said John Walsh.
Since we’re in the spring evaluation period, assistants can start visiting high schools in person as well and about once a day a college coach has been walking into Walsh’s office to talk with him about his 2010 and 2011 prospects and each one has been asking about J.W.
“Very honestly it’s really more (attention) than I thought it would be. I know he’s a Division I quarterback, but I didn’t know it would happen this early in his sophomore year,” said Walsh.
But with so many 2010 players already committed, teams like the Longhorns have been shifting focus towards 2011 and one of the players they’re watching is J.W. Walsh.