Bethel (Hampton, VA) cornerback Rijo Walker made a big splash his sophomore year, racking up an astounding 11 interceptions and helping the Bruins to a 10-2 record. The 5-10, 170-pound prospect, now about to enter his senior year, has become one of the leaders, on and off the field, of head coach Jeff Nelson’s program.
Coach Nelson, who is entering his third season as Bethel’s head coach, has compiled an 18-6 record in two seasons. In addition to Walker, he boasts a talented rising senior group that includes wide receiver Jamal Parker, offensive lineman Kam Shearn, offensive lineman Derrick Spivey, linebacker Isaiah Gibson and running back/linebacker Ronnie Saunders.
“We came in and realized we had the athletes. The biggest thing we needed here was discipline,” Nelson said. The things I’ve used in the country with the slow guys works with fast guys, too. You’ve got to have a team concept and you’ve got to be disciplined. You’ve got to be a family. You don’t have to like each other, but you have to respect each other. We went into this thing with that mindset and it has worked. This is our third year with this rising senior group and it’s a good group. When you’ve got kids like Rijo with a 3.6 and 1230 SAT’s and other kids around a 3.0 GPA, it shows. That’s what we want. We want that success for the future.”
Walker followed up the outstanding sophomore campaign with a solid junior season, compiling four interceptions in helping the Bruins to an 8-4 overall record that included an appearance in the Eastern Region, Division 6 semifinals against Oscar Smith. The Bruins fell to the Tigers in that contest, but Walker provided his team’s lone touchdown with an 87-yard kick-off return for a score.
Coach Nelson says Walker now “understands the leadership role” on and off the field.
“He’s got a good base at home. His mom’s a school teacher,” Nelson said. “You look at the kid and there’s something about him. He’s a student of the game. He learns in the classroom. There is just that one thing about him. There is that aura. There is that glow…whatever it is. He tries to learn and he tries to do what’s right.”
Walker has attracted interest from many Division 1A programs and has gained some quality offers,...
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