University of Miami junior running back Mark Walton has conveyed to several UM officials that he intends to forgo his senior season and turn pro, according to a source, and a national web site reported Tuesday that he has signed with an agent.
Neil Stratton of InsideTheLeague.com reported that Walton has signed with agent Zac Hiller, who also represents Minnesota Vikings and former FSU running back Dalvin Cook. Once a player signs with an agent, he loses college football eligibility.
Hiller, reached on his cell phone, said he was in a meeting and declined to answer when asked if he had signed Walton.
Walton’s season ended Oct. 7 when he sustained an ankle injury against Florida State.
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Walton closes his college career with 2006 yards rushing and a 5.1 career average, plus 56 receptions for 624 yards and a total of 28 touchdowns (26 rushing) in 30 career games.
He ran for 428 yards, on 7.6 per carry, in four games before his injury this season.
A UM source said Walton has a financial need and Miami explored getting additional financial aid for him if he hadn’t turned pro.
Walton was 7 when his father died. On March 2, his mother was pronounced dead after a stroke that put her in the hospital in late February. Walton’s first child, whose due date was Feb. 27, was born prematurely on Feb. 9, more than two weeks before his mom was incapacitated.
Draft analyst Tony Pauline said he views Walton as a mid-round pick.
“I had him rated as a second day guy before the season — third round if the season went well and maybe second round if the workouts went well also,” Pauline said. “Now a lot depends on his workouts if he comes out, how he’s able to run. A lot is dictated on the Combine medicals. It would be a reach for him to get into the third round.”
Despite losing Walton, UM is in good shape at running back, with sophomore Travis Homer set to return, and UM having oral commitments from top prospects Lorenzo Lingard and Camron Davis.
Lingard of Orange Park is rated by Rivals as the No. 2 running back and No. 8 overall prospect in the 2018 class. He ran for 1,700 yards and 26 touchdowns this season, averaging 8.2 per carry.
Miami Carol City’s Davis is rated No. 6 among backs and No. 66 overall among all 2018 prospects. Davis, who ran for 431 yards this season, tweeted on Monday that he is “1000 percent committed” to UM.
Homer has exceeded expectations this season, rushing for 888 yards and averaging 6.3 per carry and catching 18 passes for 219 yards (a 12.2 average).
Also returning at running back: freshman Deejay Dallas (who can also play receiver), freshman Robert Burns (who is redshirting) and junior Trayone Gray (seven carries for 42 yards this season).
Dallas, who moved from receiver after Walton’s injury, has 27 carries for 114 yards (a 3.9 average) and also has caught three passes for 70 yards.
Besides Walton, four other juniors face decisions about whether to turn pro: defensive tackles Kendrick Norton and Richard McIntosh Jr., safety Jaquan Johnson and cornerback Michael Jackson.
Here’s my six-pack of UM nuggets from earlier Tuesday, including the new plan at tight end, how Malik Rosier is responding to his brief benching and more.