The Tar Heels have cooled down a bit since their stretch of eight commitments in eight days, but Monday was a big day for the staff as one of the biggest in-state targets in the class of 2023 revealed his commitment.
Earlier this afternoon at a ceremony held at his high school, Hickory High School in Hickory, NC, 2023 4✮ EDGE Rico Walker announced his commitment to the Tar Heels over Tennessee, Maryland and others, a move that felt like it had been coming for a while now. He was one of the most frequent visitors to Chapel Hill in this recruiting cycle with six trips to campus, including his official visit to campus. Despite some concerns about the Volunteers making a push for him late, that official visit to Carolina on June 24-26th really seemed to seal the deal.
Walker, the No. 24 edge rusher in the 2023 class according to 247Sports Composite player rankings, is preparing for his final prep season with Hickory High School. Last year as a junior, he finished with 56 total tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks and five quarterback hurries on his way to earning all-conference honors. As a sophomore back in the spring of 2021, he received second team all-state honors from HighSchoolOT.com as a two-way player after finishing with 37 total tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks defensively while also hauling in 13 catches for 374 yards and five touchdowns at tight end for the Red Tornadoes.
The Tar Heel defensie is wanting more physicality and that is the first thing that stands out about his game. He does a good job of using his physicality to shed blocks and when he gets to the ball carrier, he loves to make them pay. He combines that with really nice speed off the edge, which allows him to get into the backfield quickly and also chase down plays from behind. Like many other defensive players in this class, there is no question about his motor, either, something that this defense has lacked at times over the past couple of seasons. While it isn’t his strength, he does show the ability to drop into coverage and his success on the offensive side of the ball certainly showcases how athletic he really was. The one thing that may be a question mark is the weight he is playing at in high school at 233 lbs., but he has tremendous length on him, which is something you simply can’t teach. This is a massive addition for this Tar Heel defense in this 2023 class.
With his commitment, the Tar Heels now have fifteen total commits in the class, including five of the top thirteen players from the state of North Carolina. The class jumps back into the top 20 to 19th overall in the 247Sports Composite team rankings and pulls them even closer to third place Louisville in the ACC. The team will hope to continue to build on the momentum and pull off a huge upset tomorrow in the pursuit of another major in-state target along the defensive front.