Running back Ronnie Walker and Hopewell head coach Ricky Irby (Photo: Andy Hilton/recruit757)
Ronnie Walker Jr. makes his UVA debut on Saturday
by Byron Jones, recruit804
Former Hopewell star Ronnie Walker Jr. was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA on Wednesday and will travel with the team to Winston Salem, NC for Saturday’s contest against Wake Forest. According to a press release on Walker’s eligibility, Coach Bronco Mendenhall stated that he anticipates the Indiana transfer to play in this week’s game. “We are excited for Ronnie that his request for a waiver to play this season was approved and we look forward to having him compete starting this weekend,” he stated.
Two of Walker’s biggest supporters during the appeal process have been his former coach Ricky Irby, and his younger brother TreVeyon Henderson. On Friday, I caught up with both Irby and Henderson to get their take on Walker’s journey to this point.
Hopewell Head Coach Ricky Irby:
“Ronnie has always been a great football player. However, he’s an even better person. He’s always going to do things the right way and he’s a guy you never have to worry about getting in trouble. Ronnie has a great family support system and he and his brothers were raised well by their parents.”
When asked about his communication with his former player during the transfer process, Irby stated, “We spoke on a weekly basis. Talked about life, football, etc. When it came to his decision to leave Indiana, Ronnie just wanted to be closer to home. It wasn’t that Indiana was bad, he enjoyed it, but I think it was a little too far away and it was tough on him.”
He continued, “UVA was a high #2 for him coming out of high school and I think he’s going to be a great fit there.”
TreVeyon Henderson (Ohio State commit)
The nation’s #1 running back for the class of 2021 had the privilege of welcoming his brother back to Hopewell in the spring when COVID-19 shut down college campuses across the country. When asked what it meant to have him back home, TreVeyon stated, “It felt great finally being able to bond and work out with him again, I had a good time but now it’s time for him to get back to business.”
He continued, “Having him around pushed me to another level! We were working out three times a day so I had to stay motivated at all times. When I lost focus, he was there to get me back on track. We worked very hard over the offseason, and we were always pushing each other to do better and go harder.”
TreVeyon is ecstatic that the waiting game is over and he will be able to see his brother back on the field competing. “I was very excited when he got the news that he was cleared to play. I know he’s hungry and more ready than ever. I can’t wait to see him do his thing. I expect him to be the best that he can be, and show the country that he’s one of the best running backs in college football. I can’t wait for him to prove everyone who slept on him WRONG!”
During his tenure at Hopewell, Walker was a two-time all-state and all-region performer for the Blue Devils. In his final season, Ronnie rushed for 1,344 yards on 216 carries and recorded 19 scores. He attracted offers from all over the country including UVA, but he took his talents to Bloomington, Indiana. Walker rushed for 221 yards on 59 carries and scored two touchdowns in 22 games of action for the Hoosiers. He also caught 12 passes for 112 yards and a score.
The Cavaliers (1-2) are set to kick off at Wake Forest Saturday at 4PM on the ACC Network.
– Byron Jones