A 4-year starter on the CHS Hornets' offensive line and 3-years starter on defense, Walker Graves is projected to be on defensive side of ball with repeated NCAA D-II champ Northwest Missouri State.
2017-18 Chillicothe High School senior Walker Graves this morning (Feb. 7, 2018) made official what he had indicated recently on social media, signing to accept a football scholarship from Northwest Missouri State University, the premier NCAA Division II gridiron program in the United States.
According to Graves and his now-retired CHS head coach, Phil Willard, Northwest intends to deploy the new recruit as a defensive interior lineman, where Graves seemed to really blossom as a third-year starter last fall. By NCAA restrictions, the college could not have a representative present for the signing nor comment on it until the letter was physically in its possession.
While projected to become part of the interior lineman corps in NWMSU's 4-man front defensive scheme, Graves started on the offensive line all four of his CHS seasons and three times was cited as All-State on that side of the ball. However, his play on defense as a junior and especially as a senior likely would have warranted such recognition for that aspect of his performance, had those involved in postseason honors selection chosen to promote him for his defense.
Using more-conservative criteria utilized by the NCAA, Graves, 6'2" and playing at around 300 pounds, was tracked by the C-T from game video as involved in 38 tackles – 19 unassisted – in 11 games as a junior and jumped that up by more than one-third to 52 as a senior with 25 solo stops. Under less-stringent criteria (NCAA defensive-statistic guidelines recommend – in all but a very limited number of instances – no more than two players be credited with a non-unassisted tackle on any given play), the CHS coaching staff with 67 total tackles, 3-1/2 sacks, and seven tackles for loss in 2017 after having 45 total tackles – 14 unassisted – with seven tackles for loss and five sacks as a junior.
(This story will be updated and expanded upon in the Friday, Feb. 9, print edition of the C-T.)