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Next Stop Division I
Junior college linemen Moore and Walker looking forward to the next step

Oklahoma has not been known to stockpile junior college players during Bob Stoops’ seven seasons running the show. There have been a few gems, for sure, like Josh Heupel and Torrance Marshall, who came in from the juco ranks and made immediate impressions on the program.

But for the most part, the Sooners have been able to maintain their recruiting focus on high school talent since winning the national championship in 2000.

Circumstances could alter that trend this recruiting season. The Sooners are in need of immediate depth at on the offensive line and junior college players like Sherrone Moore and Brandon Walker could very well be the answer.

Both players ended up at their respective junior colleges for very different reasons. And both players had the same goal in mind when they landed in their sleepy towns to play football in what could only be considered the minor leagues of big time college football.

Moore is a 6-foot-5, 300-pound offensive tackle from Butler County Community College in El Dorado, Kan. He ended up at Butler County simply because he had no where else to go.
Division-I programs were not interested in Moore as a high school senior since he had only been playing organized football for three years.

Basically, Moore was an unknown commodity and thus, he ended up at Butler County. No one had a clue how good he really could be.

“I played defensive tackle in high school,” said Moore. “I was an alternating starter on varsity my junior year. My senior year, I was starting at left tackle and I really didn’t get any offers out of high school. I didn’t even get letters from anybody.

“I first talked to (Butler County head coach Troy Morrell) and he said he’d be recruiting me, and then a few other junior colleges started talking to me.”

Moore had a passion for football and believed he was destined to play at a major college if he could continue to learn the game and somehow get noticed. That is what his journey to Butler County was all about.

“I was kind of inexperienced with the game,” said Moore. “I’m still learning a lot about it. In high school, it was a lot easier because I was a lot bigger and stronger than most of the guys. I wanted to go to juco to mature and learn the game more and get stronger and bigger.”

Meanwhile, Walker’s journey to Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, Kan., was very different. The 6-foot-3, 315-pound offensive lineman was recruited by major colleges during his senior season in high school, but his grades forced him to take a circuitous route to the Division-I level.

“I was hearing from recruiters about once a week, usually,” Walker said. “I got offered by Toledo and I didn’t pass my ACT and I wasn’t going to be eligible — (so) everybody pretty much pulled everything off the table and everyone stopped calling.”

But Walker’s high school coach knew Coffeyville head coach Sean Cherico. That connection began he trek to the tiny town in southeast Kansas.

“I didn’t know how small the town was, but I knew it was a good program and they send a lot of kids to Division-I every year,” said Walker. “All I was trying to do was get out and go to Division-I. Once I got here and saw how the town was, I was like, ‘Oh man!”

Both players knew the junior college route was a possible stepping stone to bigger and better things. But neither had any idea how much they could potentially improve their stock by performing so well at their respective schools.

Walker is ranked as the No. 10 junior college player in the country by Rivals.com, while Moore is ranked as the No. 29 juco player in the country.

For a player who didn’t have any options coming out of high school, Moore is pleasantly surprised at his choices now.

“I am shocked, but I just give all my thanks to my coaches,” said Moore. “They’ve helped me so much in learning the game and learning my position. They’ve helped me learn what to do in different situations. They’ve really helped me the most.

“It’s been everything I wanted it to be and more. It’s been overwhelming. It just feels really good to be in the position that I’m in. To my coaches, I give them all the props in the world. Every single one of them has helped me so much.”

As for Walker, he’s a little less humbled by the accolades. But he knows he’s getting what he expected out of his junior college experience.

“I knew I could play Division-I ball coming out of high school. I was upset because I had to come to a junior college,” Walker said. “Once I got here, I figured everything happens for a reason. It’s helping me to a better school instead of Toledo.

“I’d say it’s lived up to my expectations,” continued Walker. “I’m glad I came the junior college route. I got a foot in the door with college football instead of having to go to a big college and sit on the bench for a year. I got to come in and play right away. I think it helped me out a lot. I think it will help me at the next level.”

As for where both players will end up, that’s still up in the air. Moore and Walker both visited Oklahoma during the Texas A&M game. Both have the Sooners high on their respective lists, and both enjoyed their time in Norman.

Still, it was a bit overwhelming to sit in a stadium full of 85,000 rowdy fans in Norman. Both players said their seats behind the Oklahoma bench were tantalizing reminders of what’s possibly in store for them next season.

“I had that feeling sitting there in the stands at Oklahoma that I’ve got to make it, I’ve got to play Division-I ball. I can’t stay juco any more,” said Walker.

Moore agreed.

“It was loud and I liked it a lot,” he said. “I know I could just imagine myself playing there.”

As for Oklahoma’s football program, it could use a couple of good players like Moore and Walker. And the fact they are both two years into their college careers certainly doesn’t hurt.

Kevin Wilson has hit the junior college ranks harder than ever this season. The need is there and Wilson likes some of the benefits junior college players can bring to the table.

“If we’re fortunate enough to get a mid-year player, you can have him participate in your spring practices. It gives him a chance to learn your system, to fit in better and get involved with your offseason and winter conditioning program and the summer offseason program,” said Wilson.

“Then, that next fall, it’s almost like they’ve had a full year of development. You think that’s just going to help the learning curve and their ability to be successful. In most cases, you’re getting guys that are a couple of years older and they’re a little bit more developed with their strength and maturity. So physically, as a young player they can hold up.”

Moore would be a mid-semester transfer. He fits the profile Wilson discussed. He was a full qualifier out of high school and he’ll also have a redshirt year available and two years of eligibility.

Walker won’t graduate until the end of his school year. The earliest he could arrive is summer. But he brings a bonus of his own — three years of eligibility — because he redshirted his first season at Coffeyville due to a broken hand.

Moore is down to his final two choices. He visited Arizona State the weekend after his visit to Oklahoma, and the schools appear to be in a dead heat to land the talented offensive tackle.

“Hopefully soon,” answered Moore, when asked how quickly he’ll make his decision. “I’ve been thinking about it a lot. It’s just something that’s going to come to me.”

As for Walker, he’s not nearly as far along in his decision-making process. He hails from Detroit and the Michigan State Spartans could be considered the favorite at this point. He still plans a trip to Oklahoma State and Illinois next month before finishing off his official visits to Michigan State in January.

“I’ll probably know where I’m going the third week of January. I’ll be making a decision and committing somewhere,” said Walker.

Wherever these two linemen end up, they’ll know their journeys through small-town Kansas have been well worth it.

Editor's Note: Every issue of Sooner Spectator contains one or more recruiting features. Subscribe today in plenty of time for our big recruiting special issue in February.