2016 Season Countdown: #66 Kareem Walker

2016 Season Countdown: #66 Kareem Walker


July 5, 2016
Kareem Walker 137x

Kareem Walker

Name: Kareem Walker
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 210 lbs.
High school: Wayne (NJ) DePaul Catholic
Position: Running back
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: #6
Last year: Walker was a senior in high school (LINK). He rushed for 1,517 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Final TTB Rating: 86

Walker was high on Michigan early, and then he somewhat surprisingly committed to the Ohio State Buckeyes on the day they won the national championship in 2015. Michigan continued to recruit him, and things went sour between Walker and OSU, which caused him to decommit in the fall. With a plan to enroll early at the school of his choice, he didn’t have a lot of time to drag out his decision, so he chose in mid-December to become a Wolverine. In the meantime, Walker’s promising sophomore and junior seasons preceded a slightly disappointing performance as a senior, when some started to question his lofty ranking. What seemed like elite quickness and burst as an underclassman turned into, less majestically, just good qualities.

This spring Walker was running fourth at tailback, behind De’Veon Smith, Ty Isaac, and Drake Johnson. Karan Higdon was sidelined by an injury for part of the spring, so he may be a factor ahead of Walker, too. I don’t expect Walker to surpass any of the first three guys unless one of them has a Ty Isaac-like inability to hold onto the football, but I do think he will play. You don’t steal a running back from Ohio State with the intent of burying him on the bench. I’m not in love with Walker, and he didn’t wow anyone this spring, but I do think he can be a productive back down the road. With Smith and Johnson graduating after the 2016 season, this year will be a bit of an audition to see who becomes the lead back in 2017.

Prediction: Backup tailback

6 comments

  1. Comments: 3181
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Jul 07, 2016 at 1:02 PM

    I think Ty Isaac is a good bet to have a Ty-Isaac-like quality.

    Agree with the rank and analysis. Wouldn’t be missed if hurt but probably gets snaps in a development role. Hopefully he shows out in some garbage time carries and move to the front of Thunder’s 2017 hype-train.

  2. Comments: 3181
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Jul 07, 2016 at 1:04 PM

    It would be rare to trust a freshman in this role but I’ll ask anyway….

    Any reason to believe that Walker would excel in a 3rd down back role sooner rather than later?

    (I still feel like Michigan can do better than Deveon Smith in these situations)

    • Comments: 2083
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jul 07, 2016 at 3:31 PM

      Walker’s high school coach was very complimentary of his pass blocking and unselfishness. I do think he could be a third down back, but Johnson and Isaac also have some skills in that area. Neither one is a great blocker, but both are solid receivers. It might depend on matchups, game situation, etc.

      • Comments: 3181
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jul 08, 2016 at 1:12 PM

        Unfortunately for Isaac and Johnson blocking is the #1 responsibility of a 3rd down back and both are questionable on that front. #2 responsibility is being a big play threat (on 3rd and long), where Smith is lacking. I would love to see Isaac improve his blocking and win this job (especially since it would let Smith focus on 1st and 2nd downs where he seems better utilized) but I might have more optimism for Walker at the moment. Again – rare for a freshman to be a trusted blocker but we saw the staff trust Peppers to return punts so maybe Walker gets a shot here early in the year.

  3. Comments: 24
    Joined: 12/19/2015
    greggoblue
    Jul 08, 2016 at 7:51 AM

    Just watched Kareem Walker’s Jr and So highlights and wow, easy to see why he was ranked so highly.

    He looks to have noticeably bulked up in the spring game, especially in his legs. He wasn’t running anybody over in high school, but I think if he carries the added weight well he can be a more complete back.

    • Comments: 2083
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jul 08, 2016 at 10:52 AM

      I agree that he looked like he has bulked up in the spring. I wonder if the coaching staff saw his skinny legs in high school and thought, “Hey, if we can get this guy in good shape, we’ll have something.”

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