Rich Rodriguez is losing one of his highest-rated recruits at Arizona. Offensive lineman Keenan Walker is leaving the desert, creating a void for the Wildcats.
Following a rough 3-9 season in Tucson, Rich Rodriguez is losing his top player from the team’s 2015 recruiting class.
The Arizona head coach, who is entering his sixth season in the desert, will have to field a Wildcats squad this fall without offensive lineman Keenan Walker, who announced via Twitter on Tuesday that he is leaving the program and plans to play elsewhere.
Walker’s decision ends an up and down career for him in Tucson.
After injuring his knee during his senior season in high school, Walker took a grayshirt with Arizona in 2015 after being a four-star recruit in that class. The Scottsdale Chaparral product was able to join his new teammates on the field in the spring practice season of 2016. But last summer, he was arrested in Scottsdale and charged with assault and disorderly conduct following a scrap outside of a nightclub. Rodriguez never said that Walker was suspended as a result of the incident, only that his non-participation in the 2016 season had to due with injury instead of disciplinary action. Nonetheless, Walker was forced to redshirt his true freshman year.
Another wrench was thrown into Walker’s preparation for the 2017 season when he was held out for much of spring ball due to an ankle injury. So because he has not played a college down and has had very limited practice time with the team, Walker’s departure doesn’t appear to be too huge of a blow because the ‘Cats never really knew how much he would be available.
However, the loss of the 6-foot-5, 283-pounder is still big because the team’s offensive line depth is a concern entering the new season. The unit’s subpar play compounded the team’s quarterback issues in 2016, and there weren’t any recruits brought in across the line this past February on National Signing Day. Plus, the Wildcats will lose seniors Jacob Alsadek, Layth Friekh and Gerhard de Beer after this season.
Walker chose the Wildcats over offers from traditional powers such as Ohio State, Texas, Texas A&M, USC and Washington, so it will be interesting to see if one or more of those programs shows any renewed interest. The problem for Walker is that he doesn’t have any college playing experience at this point to pique the interest of those programs.