COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Hickory’s Walker finds Tar Heels as the right fit

Hickory High senior defensive end Rico Walker, one the nation’s top players at his position, announced Monday he will play college football at North Carolina. His decision means the Tar Heels will have two star players from Catawba County in their freshman class, which plays its first game in September 2023 at Bank of America Stadium against South Carolina. /HICKORY HIGH PHOTO

UNC now has 2 of Catawba County’s top stars for 2023 college season



HICKORY – The future of North Carolina football now includes two top players from Catawba County.

Two weeks after the Tar Heels landed Maiden High wide receiver Chris Culliver, they also got Hickory defensive end Rico Walker.

Walker (6-foot-3, 233 pounds) announced Monday at HHS that he’d chosen UNC over Auburn, Florida, Maryland and Tennessee. He had more than 25 offers.

Walker’s dad, Ricardo, played at Auburn after starring in high school at St. John’s High in Darlington, S.C.

The final season for Rico Walker at HHS starts Aug. 19 in Hickory against Alexander Central.

The Red Tornadoes were 7-5 last season — Joe Glass’ first season as their head coach – and they improved from 0-7 the year before and posted HHS’ first winning record since 2012.

Walker helped the Red Tornadoes go 5-2 and finish in the third place in the Western Foothills 3A by contributing 56 tackles, seven sacks, seven hits for lost yardage, five quarterback hurries, one fumble recovery, one forced fumble and he blocked one field goal.

He also played offense with 12 catches for 131 yards and three TDs.

In two varsity seasons, Walker has 25 catches for 505 yards and eight scores in 19 games plus 93 total tackles (51 solos) with 11 hits for lost yardage and nine sacks.

Walker and Culliver will join the UNC program in 2023 when the Tar Heels’ season-opener is scheduled Sept. 2 in Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte against South Carolina.




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