The University of Virginia football program received a needed boost to its running back corps on Friday, announcing the addition of Indiana University transfer running back Ronnie Walker Jr.
— Virginia Football (@UVAFootball) April 17, 2020
Walker Jr. was high on Virginia’s wish list coming out of Hopewell High School, where he totaled 3,355 yards rushing his junior and senior seasons and led the Blue Devils to a 2017 state championship as a senior. He earned double-digit FBS scholarship offers – including one from UVA – before choosing Indiana. He enrolled in Bloomington in January of 2018.
The 5’10”, 210-pound running back played in 22 games in two seasons with the Hoosiers, totaling 221 yards rushing on 59 carries. He added 12 receptions for 112 yards and one touchdown. Walker Jr. played in 13 games this past season, earning Academic All-Big Ten honors for his performance on and off the field.
“Our program just improved,” Virginia head football coach Bronco Mendenhall said in the video below in which he welcomes Walker Jr. to the fold.
— Bronco Mendenhall (@UVACoachBronco) April 17, 2020
In a videoconference interview with media, Virginia offensive coordinator/tight ends coach Robert Anae called Walker Jr. “one of the greats to come out of Hopewell High School. There’s a couple of ‘em, and we look forward to having a Virginia native be a part of the University of Virginia. When we first got here, we went hard [recruiting Walker].”
“A young man that wants to be close to family … especially at a time like this, family means everything,” Anae continued. “To have Ronnie right here and to be this close to his home, we feel that’s a huge blessing in our program to have that kid a part of it.”
Walker Jr. joins Wayne Taulapapa and Mike Hollins as the scholarship tailbacks on the roster this coming season. However, because of NCAA transfer rules, Walker Jr. will have to sit out 2020. He’ll have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2021.
There is a chance Walker Jr. will be able to suit up for the Hoos in 2020, which would provide Bronco Mendenhall with much-needed depth at the position. The NCAA is expected to vote this spring on a one-time transfer rule that would give student-athletes immediate eligibility on their first transfer. In addition, Coach Anae indicated that Walker Jr. has applied for a waiver to be granted immediate eligibility.
“We hope that waiver goes through,” Anae said. “We hope all that stuff gets cleared and Ronnie’s ready to play next fall.”
Hopewell head coach Ricky Irby sees Walker Jr. and UVA as a good match.
“I’m really excited about Ronnie coming home,” Irby said. “I think it’s a perfect fit with the type of person Ronnie is and the type of program that Coach Mendenhall is building.”