AMELIA ISLAND -- DeMarcus Walker, a Jacksonville native and former five-star defensive end prospect, left home about six months early. Bound for Tallahassee, he was off to begin his college career at Florida State to begin learning what it took to be a well-respected Division I lineman.
That was in January.
It is now May. Six months has almost come and gone. And still, Walker hasn't even practiced a snap of football. His college career still hasn't formally begun.
As of Tuesday, he remains in an NCAA Clearinghouse-induced limbo. Walker's career is still on hold, and may be for a little while longer.
Near the end of an hourlong session with reporters at the ACC spring meetings inside the Ritz-Carlton hotel here Tuesday afternoon, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher expressed the same bewilderment about the Walker saga that was a constant part of his interviews earlier this spring.
As soon as he was asked about Walker and where things currently stood with the freshman and the high school course the Clearinghouse has been looking into the past three months, Fisher let out a heavy sigh.
"It's flooring. It's phenomenal," Fisher said, declining to go too deeply into addressing the situation. "The way he's handled it has been amazing."
Walker, a defensive end who had been flirting with Florida before committing to Alabama, enrolled early at FSU when the spring semester began the week of Jan. 7.
On the night of Jan. 7, the same night Alabama was playing Notre Dame in the national championship game, Walker officially flipped his committment from the Crimson Tide to the Seminoles. Within the next two days, he was on campus in Tallahassee, beginning classes in anticipation of participating in the Seminoles' offseason workouts and spring practices.
Just before the spring practice period began in late March, however, FSU received a notice from the NCAA Clearinghouse. Walker had taken a class in high school that raised flags in the Clearinghouse's offices. Until an investigation was completed, he couldn't practice nor compete.
The investigation, according to Fisher, continues.
The Clearinghouse handles eligibility concerns for the NCAA. The academic arm of the organization is the largest. Until an athlete of any college sport passes the Clearinghouse, he or she cannot compete in games, and certain practice scenarios are likewise limited.
Since he wasn't cleared, Walker was forced to walk around each of FSU's 15 spring practices simply wearing his practice jersey, and avoiding going through drills. At one point early in the practice session, iwthout a trainer or assistant coach near him, he took himself through various position-specific drills off on a far corner of the practice fields. He stopped doing that in the first week, though, and instead sat off to the side and was a spectator for the remainder of the practices.
Meanwhile, he still took college courses. Walker completed his first semester about three weeks ago, and is set to begin summer school as classes recommence this week.
"He made over a 3.0 this semester," Fisher said. "Never missed a class, a study hall. I wish all our kids were like him."
For now, Walker continues to play the Clearinghouse waiting game.¿