Florida State's DeMarcus Walker was a consensus four-star defensive end recruit and a long-time Alabama commitment before he switched his commitment to Florida State and enrolled this January. The move was in large part prompted by the move of Jeremy Pruitt, formerly Alabama's secondary coach, and Walker's area recruiter, to Florida State to become defensive coordinator.
Walker is about 6'3 and 260 pounds, with obvious college-ready side and skills. Florida State is counting on him to play a non-zero number of snaps this season, as it lost three defensive ends to the NFL, including two potential first rounders in Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine. Walker took part in the off-season conditioning program in January, February and early March, and was enrolled in classes.
But Walker hasn't been practicing with the team. And he's not listed on the roster as of March 28. Walker is at practice, but not participating.
The reason? An issue with the NCAA Clearinghouse -- the arm of the NCAA that approves transcripts and academic profiles of incoming freshmen. Specifically, it appears that there is an issue with one of Walker's classes.
How do we know this? Jimbo Fisher told the media about the Clearinghouse issue, and late Wednesday night, Walker dropped some more details on Twitter. The image at right is a screenshot captured at 11:51 p.m. Wednesday. It shows a conversation between Walker and two other Twitter users.
For the Twitter illiterate, or those on a mobile device, I'll set this up for you.
Walker (@livinglegend_44), clearly frustrated, tweets: "NCAA, please hurry up and clear me."
Twitter user "@EthanVaughan7" tweets to Walker: "what happened?"
Walker (@livinglegend_44) tweets in response: "a team said I took a fake class which is not true."
Twitter user "@TonyFeola" tweets to Walker: "which team? Was it the U those slime balls!," an obvious reference to the Miami hurricanes.
Walker (@livinglegend_44) tweets to in response to both: "no [inserts image of an elephant]" Alabama, obviously, has the elephant as its mascot.
Twitter user "@EthanVaughan7" tweets to Walker: "I figured that's who it was. They lost out on getting a star like you. Who wouldn't be mad." This is almost certainly a reference to Alabama, particularly when taken in context, as a reply to Walker's tweet of an image of an elephant, the animal that just to happens to be Alabama's mascot. Walker then re-tweets this, which is a common twitter way of endorsing a tweet as your own, or at the very least, a way for other people who follow a twitter user to see what was said to him.
This raises a lot of questions, none of which seem to have answers at the moment.
The biggest of which is the legitimacy of the "fake class."
If not, did Alabama turn Walker in out of spite or sour grapes? How does Walker know Alabama turned him in? Did someone tell him? If so, how did that person know? Did the NCAA tip the person who told Walker, or perhaps a person who told the person who told Walker? It's not unheard of for the identity for an accuser in an NCAA matter to be revealed (see Phillip Fulmer and the Alabama case in the early 2000s).
If it is true, there is a whole other can of worms about to be opened.
Where did the class in question take place? Walker's Jacksonville (Fla.) Sandalwood High School, or perhaps it was an online course? Did he know it was fake? Did he actually take the class?
Logically, if Walker's assertion that Alabama is the accuser is to be believed, the Crimson Tide had to know about it. How would Alabama know about it? Did Alabama set the class up in order for Walker to graduate and enroll early? And that would perhaps imply that new FSU defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, his recruiter at Alabama before coming to Florida State, also could have known. If Pruitt knew, then by association Florida State also could be implied to have known.
Again, there are far too many questions and not enough information to draw any conclusions at this point.
But I also have another question: How long has the NCAA known about this?
Was it just notified? It seems incomprehensible that this issue could be ongoing for almost 12 weeks, but then again, this is the same horribly run organization that so badly fumbled a case against Miami in which a booster gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts to players that it now may be forced to drop the case entirely. With the NCAA, assume incompetence.
We'll continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds, and hopefully Walker can soon do what he skipped out on graduation and senior prom to do -- play football.