Two days after Tennessee receivers coach and southeast recruiter Darin Hinshaw came into Orlando Evans High with guns ablazing to let Dominic Walker know he was a top priority, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound wide receiver has revealed there is a Tennessee school atop his list of favorite schools.
But the school's nickname is not the Volunteers. Another receivers coach has made quite the impression on Walker. Vanderbilt's first-year offensive recruiting coordinator Josh Gattis has struck up a relationship of trust with Walker, and for that the Commodores have one of the top receivers in the nation touting them as his leaders.
"Right now Vanderbilt is my top team because they are recruiting me the hardest of anyone and I have a good relationship with Coach Gattis," Walker said. "I like the atmosphere up there. I went up there this past spring break with Alton Meeks (Boone quarterback) and I really liked it.
"I also like the fact that my recruiting coordinator is also my position coach and it's always good to have a good relationship with the position coach before you get there, if that's where I was to pick. You can have a good relationship with a recruiting coordinator and not the position coach and so then when you get there, everything is different.
"Coach Gattis has also talked to me about how I could go in there and play early and it's a great school academically and I can get a great education."
But the process is still in the early stages, and Hinshaw, too, fits the pattern of a position coach recruiting Walker, which could develop into a similar relationship that Walker has already built with Gattis.
With Tennessee coming into the picture so firmly this week, the Vols join Walker's short list of top schools, which also includes Texas A&M and one-time front-runner Florida State.
FSU was on top early because the Seminoles were one of Walker's first offers, but also because teammates WR Tony Stevens and LB Ro'Derrick Hoskins have already committed to the FSU recruiting Class of 2013."The Tennessee wide receivers coach came in and was telling me how interested they are in me and want me to come to camp this summer," Walker said of his conversation with Hinshaw on Tuesday, which also involved a verbal scholarship offer from the Vols. "So I'm going to go up there in June for two or three days and stay up there and see what i think.
"I also haven't talked to them about the chances of playing early, so I want to do that sometime."
Tennessee could loosen Vandy's stronghold with a good sales pitch, so the Commodores will want to be on their recruiting game.
"I put [Tennessee] in the running for the race of one of my top picks," Walker said. "They have some of the best facilities in college football, better even than some NFL teams … and they have a huge stadium. They also have some Florida guys up there so I should feel pretty comfortable when I do go up there."
Walker said he would like to make a decision prior to the season starting.
"I have a lot of offers but I only can pick one," he said.
For now he is concentrating on the spring session.
"It’s going good. We get after it every day. The intensity level is very high and we’re making it happen at Evans High," said Walker of the resurgent Trojans, who went 10-2 last season. "I know people got high expectations and there are a lot of scouts coming out here every day to check us out. We know what we have to do."
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting.