Junior Walling (right) with his dad, Jason, on an unofficial visit to Oregon State University last year.
Junior Walling still has another year of high school football left to play. But there are a number of major college programs that are already greatly interested in the McNary linebacker’s services in 2020.
The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder has gained scholarship offers from major programs such as, Oregon State, Utah, Air Force and Army. He has also taken recruiting trips — also known as unofficial visits — to Oregon, Purdue, Colorado, UCLA and Boise State.
During these trips, Walling gets to see the individual campuses first-hand and talk with different coaches and coordinators about educational programs, defensive schemes and learn about the overall motto and environment of each program.
“Going on these trips has been really cool because I get to see the differences with each school,” Walling said. “It’s for sure been an experience I’ll never forget. I’ve really enjoyed it so far.”
Walling actually got his first offer from Oregon State last spring after having a stellar sophomore season in 2017. Walling’s father, Jason, played at OSU in the early ‘90s.
“That was real huge for me and my family, especially with my dad playing there and all my family graduating from there,” Walling said. “It’s always been a huge dream of mine to play at the college level so that was a big moment of my life.”
While Walling has always had a connection with Oregon State, he wants to make sure he gives every school, that has shown interest, a fair shake.
“I’ve been a Beaver fan for most of my life, but I’m all about finding what school best fits me,” Walling said.
With the many recruiting trips he has taken over the last several months, it can be quite a challenge for Walling to maintain balance in his life.
Along with being an outstanding football player, Walling also competes for the Celtics in basketball, works out four times a week with a trainer and has kept a 4.0 grade-point average all through high school — which is one of the reasons he has also received offers from Yale and Princeton.
However, in large part due to his understanding teachers, Walling is still able to make his schooling a top priority, despite his crazy schedule.
“My teachers are crazy supportive and understanding with everything that I’m doing,” Walling said. “School has always come first for me, so it’s always been really important to make sure I’m getting my schoolwork done.”
As a junior in 2018, Walling was dominant on both sides of the football in leading McNary to a Mountain Valley Conference title. He ended the season with 86 total tackles (49 solo, 37 assisted) with 16 tackles for loss and five sacks.
As a running back, Walling ended the season with 1,005 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, in addition to two receiving touchdowns. He was named first-team all-league at both positions.
According to 247Sports, Walling is the number two in-state recruit and the 14th-ranked inside linebacker in the country. He has also gotten to be interviewed on the 1080 The Fan show Recruiting with Andrew Nemec, along with a number of other media opportunities.
Even with all the attention he’s getting, Walling remains humble and thankful.
“It’s an honor to talk with a lot of these people and get all these interviews,” Walling said. “It’s just been a fun process.”
While he prepares for the 2019 season as one of the top players in the state, Walling is still striving to prepare himself for playing at the next level.
“Whether it’s making a hit, or trying to run through guys, I’m always working on how I can be more explosive with my trainer,” Walling said. “I also want to make sure that I’m staying durable. Making sure that I get through the season is huge for me.”
National Signing Day for all football recruits is February 5 of next year. But Walling says that he will be ready to make a commitment later this sumer.
“I have been talking with my family and I think I’m going to make my commitment right before my football starts for my senior year,” Walling said.