He didn't want to do it out of fear of what people might think of him, but after finally overcoming that notion, Dominic Walker decommitted from Nebraska to pledge his newfound allegiance to Auburn on Friday.
The relief could be heard in his voice as he talked about finally making the decision that had been tugging at him for nearly a week.
In the end, however, Walker weighed all of the pros and cons of choosing either Nebraska or Auburn and it was Auburn that came out on top.
"There's more opportunity for my family to see me play because it's closer to home and there's a better chance for me to go in and play right away, which is what I was looking for all along," Walker said Friday night after making the announcement that he would be joining teammate and fellow wide receiver Tony Stevens as newly committed Tigers. "Plus, I get to play another four years with my teammate Tony and that's great ... everything is just great."
He had said the same thing about Nebraska two months ago after an official visit to Lincoln. That's when he decommitted from a Vanderbilt pledge. He finally committed to Nebraska on Dec. 30, and the overwhelming support he'd seen from Nebraska fans seemed to have him locked in to Big Red Nation.
It was hard for Walker to make that call to Nebraska on Friday, but he knew he had to do it. He said he didn't handle the Vanderbilt situation as well as he could have back when he decommitted from the Commodores in October and he wanted to make sure and do the right thing this time.
Even his mom was afraid for him when he made the call to head coach Bo Pelini and his staff on Friday.
"It was a very tough decision. They were [mad]. They were very mad. But I thought I had to call them like a real man should," Walker said. "But yeah, they were mad. Coach Pelini said, 'Best of luck, you're going to need it.' "
Wide receivers coach Rich Fisher also was in on the call.
"Coach Fisher said, 'I can’t believe you,' " Walker said. "It was really awkward."
He had prepared himself for the conversation but nothing really got him ready to face the music. But he did what he felt he had to do.
"At first I was scared to decommit because of what people might think about me since I decommitted from Vandy and then I'd be decommitting from Nebraska," Walker said. "But I just gotta do what I gotta do and not worry about what people have to say. It's my future."
Indeed it is and his future will be spent in Auburn, Ala., for the next four seasons, most likely.
Walker said Stevens committing to Auburn last week did not have much to do with his choice to join the Tigers. He and Stevens both took official visits to Auburn last weekend.
"Not really. I just felt I had to do what’s best for me," Walker said. "He made his decision, but it didn’t really affect my decision. In the end, it might have affected it a little bit, but overall not really."
Being six hours away from Orlando seems to be the most important factor in the equation, as well as a relentless push from new Auburn co-offensive coordinator Dameyune Craig. The former Auburn quarterback was hired away from Florida State last month by new Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn.
"He said me and Tony can be just like we were in high school. ... Tony on one side and me on the other. We're two different types of receivers, so he said we won't be competing against each other," Walker said. "Coach Craig, they let him kind of go out and recruit his guys since he knows Florida and he really handpicked us. He saw the receivers he wanted to go out and get and he recruited us hard.
"I've gotten to know him real well these past few weeks. We've been talking like three or four times every day. I like how he talks about things and he has a good way of phrasing stuff. He came to my house for the in-home visit and let my mom know what things would be like for me at Auburn and she fell in love with his words, too."
Walker and Stevens were a formidable duo at Evans the past two seasons, during which the Trojans won two straight Class 7A district titles and were 19-5. Stevens was the go-to target and the deep threat, while Walker did most of the dirty work. Over the course of their junior and senior seasons, the pair combined for 141 catches, 2,600 yards and 36 touchdowns
Stevens had 43 catches for 803 yards and 14 touchdowns this past season, and as a junior he had 37 catches for 781 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging almost 20 yards per catch over the two seasons.
Walker, who got off to a slow start this past season, which was somewhat due to some sloppy conditions in a rainy September and the Trojans ran the ball a lot. He had 25 catches for 398 yards as a senior, and as a junior he caught 36 balls for 618 yards and six touchdowns. He averaged 16 yards per catch over two seasons.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times