Monday, May 27, 2024
Home Sports NCAA denies waiver for UNC WR Devontez Walker, who transferred to be near ailing grandmother

NCAA denies waiver for UNC WR Devontez Walker, who transferred to be near ailing grandmother

by nytime
0 comment

The NCAA appears to be cracking down on immediate eligibility for two-time transfers.

News came down Tuesday that two players — North Carolina receiver Devontez Walker and Florida State defensive lineman Darrell Jackson — both had their hardship waivers denied to play at their new schools this upcoming season.

The NCAA allows players to transfer once and be immediately eligible. Players who have graduated are also granted immediate eligibility, but the NCAA has tightened its rules on players transferring for a second time. It could have a major impact on UNC’s season.

While Jackson would have had a role on the Florida State defense, Walker was expected to be the top target for North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye this season. A transfer from Kent State, Walker garnered so much buzz during the spring that he was named to the preseason all-ACC team.

Walker explained in a statement Tuesday that he transferred to a school close to home to be near his grandmother, who is dealing with health problems. He said the process of waiting for his eligibility case to be decided has “been extremely difficult on me and my family.” North Carolina has filed an appeal, but as it currently stands, Walker will not be able to suit up in Week 1 vs. South Carolina.

“The first and main reason I decided to transfer from Kent State was the stress and anxiety I was feeling being away from my home while my grandmother deals with health issues. She is my rock, my everything, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. She took care of me when I was younger and being away from her and the rest of my family was very challenging and hard to deal with,” Walker said.

“It’s meant the world to us to be in the same area, where she’s just a short drive away and I have far more opportunities to be with her. There is also the added bonus that she would be able to see me play college football in person for the first time, since she wasn’t able to travel during my time at Kent State.”

The NCAA denied hardship waiver that would have allowed North Carolina receiver Devontez Walker to play this year. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

Walker’s path to North Carolina has had several twists and turns. He originally signed with East Tennessee State out of high school, but he suffered a torn ACL and the ETSU staff deferred his enrollment to the spring. He ended up not going to ETSU and instead enrolled at NC Central the next year, 2020. However, NC Central never played amid the COVID-19 pandemic — the Eagles saw both their fall and spring seasons canceled.

From there, Walker ended up at Kent State. He spent two seasons with the Golden Flashes. He had just five catches in 2021 but was a breakout performer in 2022 when he had 58 catches for 921 yards and 11 touchdowns. After the season, Kent State head coach Sean Lewis left the program to become the offensive coordinator at Colorado. Walker’s position coach left Kent State, too, so he entered the transfer portal with the idea of playing close to home.

Walker, a Charlotte native, chose North Carolina with the hopes of playing in front of his family in 2023. Now, he is hoping the NCAA will reconsider its ruling.

“I did everything with the rules to allow me to play this year, have clearly had some things happen that were out of my control and have dealt with the mental anguish that comes along with all of it,” Walker said. “I want this to be over. I want to stop feeling like this. I just want to play. I want my grandmother to come watch me. I want to be a student and an athlete and I hope those in charge give me that opportunity.”

Mack Brown: Walker is ‘really struggling’

North Carolina head coach Mack Brown said he believes Walker should be eligible because he has only played football at one other school. Brown said Kent State has been fully supportive in Walker’s quest to play in 2023.

“Tez has only played football at one school and should be considered a first-time transfer,” Brown said. “Kent State fully supports him being eligible. They understand and want him to be eligible. We feel very good moving forward that the NCAA will look at this and understand this isn’t a normal case of a double transfer.”

Brown said Walker is “really struggling” mentally during this process.

“He’s been down,” Brown said. “He made a decision based on what was best for him that he thought was within the rules and for his grandmother and his family. Now we’re sitting here four weeks from gametime and just waiting to see if he’s going to play. So he has to practice every day not knowing if he’s even going to have an opportunity to play. When we look at what transfer rules are for and we look at what’s the best for mental health, there’s absolutely no doubt that this is a mental health issue for Tez. It’s putting way too much pressure on him.”

Florida State’s Darrell Jackson: ‘I came home for my mom’

Like Walker, FSU’s Jackson came home for family reasons. Jackson, who began his college career at Maryland and then played at Miami last fall, explained to reporters Tuesday that he transferred to Florida State to be closer to his mother, who is dealing with an illness.

Jackson is from Havana, Florida, which is about a half hour from FSU’s campus in Tallahassee.

“It was hurtful because I know what I came home for,” Jackson said. “I came home for my mom. I’m just trying to get through it and be here for my mom. She thinks it’s her fault, but it’s not. I’m going to continue to be there for my mom and see how things play out.”

FSU is appealing the NCAA’s decision, head coach Mike Norvell said.

“I’m extremely disappointed,” Norvell said. “For that young man and his journey and the reason why he’s here, I’m just sad he’s going to miss games. He’s hurt. He came back home for a reason — to be there with his mom.”

FSU is scheduled to open its season vs. LSU in Orlando on Sept. 3 in Orlando.

You may also like

Leave a Comment

Soledad is the Best Newspaper and Magazine WordPress Theme with tons of options and demos ready to import. This theme is perfect for blogs and excellent for online stores, news, magazine or review sites.

Buy Soledad now!

Edtior's Picks

Latest Articles

u00a92022u00a0Soledad.u00a0All Right Reserved. Designed and Developed byu00a0Penci Design.