Scholarship to Cal caps ‘blessed’ high school career for Avery Walls

ELCA defensive back Avery Walls didn't think twice about going away from home for college. His final choices were Cal, Michigan and Oregon. (Photo by Chip Towers)

ELCA defensive back Avery Walls didn't think twice about going away from home for college. His final choices were Cal, Michigan and Oregon. (Photo by Chip Towers)

Usually Mama is the first to know everything. But not in Yvonne Sebastian’s case. Not this time anyway.

“I still don’t know,” Avery Walls‘ mother insisted just minutes before he was to announce his college choice in front of a small assembly at Eagles Landing Christian Academy Tuesday morning. “He was supposed to tell me at 7:30 this morning but he ended up rushing out the door to get an 8 o’clock final exam without telling me. I’m as eager as everybody else to find out where he’s going.”

Ms. Sebastian at least got a few minutes heads up. Walls  emerged from his English exam — his last test as a graduating high school senior — and whispered his choice to her and ELCA head football coach Jonathan Gess. A few minutes later, after faking a reach for a Michigan cap and picking up and dropping an Oregon cap, Walls donned the one with the logo of the California Bears.

“Life is about taking chances and improving myself with the blessings that come each day from God,” Walls told the gathering in the commons at ELCA. “As this next chance presented itself to me, I was blessed to have been accepted to Michigan, California and Oregon. Now I’m going to take my talents on the football field to . . . I’m going to Cal.”

With those words, Walls put an exclamation point on a truly momentous day. Not only was he locking down a full scholarship to a Pac-10 school, but he had also completed his final credits for high school graduation. He’ll be heading to Berkley as an early enrollee, reporting to the Cal campus on Jan. 12.

“It’s a big decision off my shoulders,” said Walls, who compiled an incredible 33 scholarship offers including several from ACC and SEC schools. “I was blessed with a lot of opportunities. But that also made it a difficult choice to make.”

In the end, Walls said, it came down to academics.

“I wanted a degree that was going to last a lifetime,” he said. “That was the case with all my finalists.”

Walls never received a scholarship offer from Georgia or Georgia Tech. But he and his mother always favored going away to college. She felt it was the best way for a young man to grow and mature and find himself. He liked the idea of discovering new people and places.

“It’s a long way from home, but the coaches and teammates I’ve met there are going to be my family,” Walls said. “And my mom is going to fly out for all the home games.”

He didn’t have to go quite so far away. Among his closer-to-home offers were Auburn, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

Pac-10 football, though, was very appealing to Walls, who will play strong safety for the Bears.

“It’s really back to work now,” said Walls, who will play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Jan. 8 in San Antonio and the USA Against the World All-Star Game Feb. 2 in Austin. “I know where I’m going now and now I have to prepare for it. They play great football in the Pac-10. It’s a great league for DBs and I’m looking forward to the competition.”

Walls transferred to Class A ELCA this summer after spending the previous two seasons Class AAAAA Union Grove the previous two seasons and helped lead the Chargers (12-1) to their best season in history. He finished with 55 tackles and two interceptions and also had 450 yards and nine touchdowns as a part-time running back. He also returned kicks.

“It’s has been one of the funnest years in my life, not only in football but in school,” said Walls, who closed out his academic career with 6 A’s and one B. “I almost wish I had one more year.”

Instead, Walls was left with one single day. But man was it a big one!

College Recruiting By Chip Towers

32 comments Add your comment


December 14th, 2010
2:25 pm

God luck Avery, stay healthy and play hard.

Sanford Drive

December 14th, 2010
2:31 pm

(((((42-34))))) hahahahahahahahaha


December 14th, 2010
2:42 pm

Get a life, Sanford. It’s all day everyday for you, isn’t it? Do you ever do anything away from a keyboard? I love how Tech folk are “nerds” when your life is dominated with being a blog troll.


December 14th, 2010
2:44 pm

Wow, a kid making a great decision. Good luck!

Vick=Dog killing thug

December 14th, 2010
3:02 pm

Good luck Avery

Avery gotta take my talents to cal..good luck!!

December 14th, 2010
3:23 pm

Heading to beautiful californication !!

dee amos

December 14th, 2010
3:30 pm

Avery i am so proud of you …..i know that u will do extremely well.


December 14th, 2010
3:52 pm

Good luck young man.

just a thought

December 14th, 2010
3:59 pm

wow don’t he know that uga is the next national champs?


December 14th, 2010
4:10 pm

Three blogs devoted to one guy? Chip, you’ve got to be sitting on some fresher news.

bitter "ole"school georgia fan

December 14th, 2010
4:13 pm

why waste time on a player who can’t see the great schools so close to home, parents cant wait to ship him off, nice!!!, i give him 6 months and like all the rest of the so called top level players he will come running home to mommy, see ya looser!!! chip give all the print to players and family that support uga and tech, collage football is and always should be a WAR!!!, all the TARDS that look to go west, go the f==== on, we have bamma, allburn loud rosters, mountain in-breeds to contend with, no time to read about some kid that has been sleeping his entire high school days instead of soaking up sec@acc football

GT Sambo

December 14th, 2010
4:19 pm

Congrats Avery. Good luck at Cal. Those of you mocking the decision of a high school kid with 33 scholarship offers are probably just jealous. I don’t begrudge a kid for going out of state if that’s what he wants to do (I came to GT and Atlanta from Colorado).


December 14th, 2010
4:29 pm

Congrats Avery. Continue to keep God first Family second and sports third. What a great young man you are Mr. Walls. You have been a great blessing to me and Empowered the last 3 years. Love you 4 Life

Craig D. Sebastian

December 14th, 2010
4:41 pm

We all back your decision no matter where you ended up!!! The family is very proud of you!!!Good Luck out @ Cal… Love Uncle Craig…


December 14th, 2010
5:18 pm

@’bitter “ole”school georgia fan’

I truly hope you’re NOT a Georgia fan! Your comments are inappropriate and should be deleted, and I feel the AJC should consider restricting you from posting.

Everybody is entitled to their opinion, but yours, ’sir’, was deplorable. Why can’t you just be glad for this young man. This is a great accompolishment in his life, and he’s entitled to go to the university of his offered choice.

Best wishes, Avery, and, as a UGA Chemistry and Pharmacy graduate, I personally apologize to you if this poster IS a UGA graduate.

Go Dawgs!


December 14th, 2010
5:34 pm

Best to ya Avery!! – A Dawg Fan

Chip Towers

December 14th, 2010
5:38 pm

1eyedJack: Busy with multiple projects at the moment. A lot of into in that Ten@10 tho.


December 14th, 2010
6:38 pm

A great school, great weather, and a chance to play top notch football. Can’t really fault him at all. Some young people want to stay instate, some want to broaden their horizons. I’m sure he will be happy at Cal.


December 14th, 2010
7:43 pm

Avery, the University of California Golden Bears welcome you to Berkeley and Northern California. Expect to work and study hard but have a great time.


December 14th, 2010
11:07 pm

guys, please STOP doing the “i’m gonna wear one of these baseball caps to show where i’m going to school the next 4 years” thing.

makes you look like a fool.


December 14th, 2010
11:49 pm

OL Jacob Fahrenkrug, the #4 ranked Juco prospect in the nation, has committed to FSU. The train keeps on rolling. All the way to the #1 class in the land…

Team Player

December 15th, 2010
6:30 am

First-I do admire the young people that consider obtaining an education is as important or more so, than the sport they play. I don’t admire the way they handle disseminating information regarding what school they have chosen to attend. If they want to play the hat game and toy with people, the classy thing to do is give the recruiters prior notice of their decision and why. Recruiters (employees) spend a lot of time and energy working on behalf of their employer. If they were fortunate enough to play professionally, these kids would be the first ones to cry foul if they are traded without any warning or discussion. I am in sales and no one likes to get turned down, but I always appreciate a prospect that has enough class to call me and tell me no and why they are taking a different path.

bitter "ole"school georgia fan

December 15th, 2010
7:43 am

LIKE many uga supporters i believe in hard nose, tough, aggressive football, like most uga folks on this site i believe in a coaching staff that can strive to better themselfs, take bear bryant no matter what school he coached his teams got better and always found a way to believe hard work started on the practice field, georgia and ga tech both have coaching staffs that will have to improve based strickly on talent on hand, if either team cannot show improvement with all the available talent in state than both AD will have no choice but to look at finding a coach or coach’s that believe recruiting starts by having the state high school coach’s support first and like coach donnan load our team with ga boy’s, theres no dought that the early success richt had was the hard work donnan and his coach’s put into place. and we can all think michael adams dum as– for sticking his 2 sence into coach dooly businaness(uh). recruting can like lsu do each year they keep 95% of there top players in state. well only time will tell, both ga and tech should never have a fall off like this year. im seeing a time when ga and tech both dominate the ALC top 11, PS ive looked into my crystall ball and found that aaron murry will win 10 games next year, ave 40 pts a game and for tech paul johnson will win his 2nd acc title, its not possible for a coach of his caliber to have another losing season because he loves to win and because of that he will not stop working (7 days a week)untill they raise the acc trophy, those 2 things i can promise.

The Truth

December 15th, 2010
7:49 am

Lot’s of people are complaining because UGA/GT didn’t extend an offer to Mr. Walls. Has it ever occurred to anyone that maybe the coaching staffs at these two schools realize from watching game film (not highlights) that he can’t play in the SEC/ACC? Or that maybe these schools just aren’t in need of a strong safety type kid? Everyone is quick to rant about the in-state schools not offering him, but many of these same people do not realize the above. Hopefully Avery will go on to have a great career at Cal. I for one will be watching his development closely. I wonder if this is the last we will hear from him?


December 15th, 2010
7:49 am

education is over-rated AKA BILL CLINTAX, BUBBA BUSH, OSMMA OBMMA, DICK-HEAD NIXON, just to name a few, a true winner starts with the heart not the brain yaaw, PS, alburn su===x


December 15th, 2010
8:04 am

@ Bitter “ole” school,

You must of got cut from the High School team? You are a class act!

Pago Pago Dawg

December 15th, 2010
9:36 am

This kid won’t be seen again. No tv, no exposure, nothing. Oh, and some of you people need to learn what a “paragraph” is. Geesh.


December 15th, 2010
10:00 am

Congrats Avery Walls!!! Should of stayed at the CREEK and you would be taking 2 State Championship rings with you!!!!


December 15th, 2010
10:55 am

Pago Pago Dawg:
Sure. Just like Cameron Newton was never seen again, right? Look, as long as UGA has Richt, UGA’s best players will be from out of state (even David Pollack was originally from New Jersey), and out of state schools (like AUBURN) will better utilize Georgia high school talent than UGA does.
The Truth:
Don’t be absurd. Avery Walls is a strong safety. But at 5′11″, 185 lbs, he doesn’t have the “measurables” to play SS in a 3-4 defense. For instance, look at BOTH Georgia Tech’s safeties. Mario Edwards is 6′1″, 215 lbs. Jerrad Tarrant is 6′1″, 205 lbs. The third safety, Isaiah Johnson, is 6′2′ 195 lbs (a true freshman), and his backup, Fred Holton is a 6′1, 200 lb. true freshman. Also, Lance Richardson is 6′2″, 206 lbs. The only safety under 6′1″ on GT’s depth chart is Rashaad Reed, and as best I can tell, he hasn’t logged any stats in 2 years.
In the 3-4, the strong safety has to be very tough against the run and also do a lot of blitzing. The strong safety in the 3-4 does a lot of things that the outside linebacker does in the 4-3. So, unless he is a freak of nature like Troy Polamalu (and Walls isn’t), he is not going to be effective in the defense for either UGA or GT. The only reason for offering the guy would have been because he is a 4 star recruit. Period. It would be better to get a 3 star guy who actually has the body type and skills that you need for that defense than to get a guy just because he is a 4 star safety and spend the next 4-5 years getting mad at him because he isn’t big or strong enough to tackle Marcus Lattimore at the line of scrimmage or get to Tyler Bray on the blitz. Doing that would have done the kid a real disservice.
But you see, lots of top programs who run a 4-3 defense like Tennessee, Oklahoma and Auburn (not to mention South Carolina and Ole Miss) would have been glad to have him. I’d say that he would have been a great fit for the John Lynch position in Auburn’s defense, which is SUPPOSED to be the cover 2. But can’t blame him for picking an AAU school over Tennessee, OU, Auburn, Clemson etc. The kid transferred to ELCA and was able to graduate early. He’s no dummy.
And if he is an “overrated recruit who will never see the field” as everyone claims (and I acknowledge that he doesn’t have the “jump out of the gym” athletic ability like all of the guys on that UGA defense that have spent the last 5 years letting guys run right by them, or nullifying the few good plays that they actually make on defense with penalties), well wow, a UC-Berkeley degree will do him a lot better in this economy than a Clemson degree will. (No disrespect to Clemson, but if you want to be rated higher, then you shouldn’t elect pols like Mark Sanford to starve you of funds for 8 years … when Clemson asked South Carolina for more money, Sanford replied that they should become a private university and raise their own funds. Yep, this is the guy that many in the GOP wanted to run for president just a short time ago …)


December 15th, 2010
10:08 pm

Seems like a great kid with his priorities in life straight.If you got the brains to handle the academics, as well as football talent, why not go to a Cal or Michigan? The academics of SEC schools (Vanderbilt excepted) just aren’t up there with almost all the Big Ten schools plus the schools like Cal and Stanford or Notre Dame.It seems that when players don’t qualify academically at schools from another conference, someone in the SEC will always take them
.If things go well he will end up with a 10 year pro career in football and an actual education to use the other 30-35 years of his working life.Best wishes! .


December 17th, 2010
8:30 pm

Great choice Avery! Welcome to the bay area. You will be arriving just in time to enjoy the new state of the art stadium and awesome CAL football atmosphere. The fans will be cheering you on!

Don't blame a brotha

December 21st, 2010
6:39 pm

Good luck to you. Remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You get 5 years to play four. If you do this right you’ll come away with a great degree that will be respected from coast-to-coast. Keep your priorities in order and be careful who you call friends.