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On Wednesday, Arden Walker will choose a hat. Not just any hat. He will be showing where he’s living and playing football at for the next few years.
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Cherry Creek defensive lineman is the most sought-after uncommitted recruit in Colorado. He has a reported 20 FBS offers, including schools from all five major conferences. He’s narrowed that list to three ahead of Wednesday’s national signing day: Colorado, Missouri and UCLA.
It’s the most difficult decision in Walker’s life. He has teased it multiple times on social media, but when he grabs the hat, he will also be signing his letter of intent. And the three-star recruit hasn’t been taking the decision lightly.
“I have been stressed,” Walker said about the recruiting process. “I stay up at night and just think about what’s my next plan or what’s my future.”
It’s a moment he’s spent years preparing for, having grown up in a football environment. His father, Arthur, was an All-Big Eight defensive lineman for Colorado in the late 1980s. Arden was born when Arthur was coaching at Oklahoma State. The two would often watch games together, with Arden emulating the moves he saw on TV.
“He’s been a football sponge since he was knee high,” Arthur said.
Arthur has groomed his “shishya” into what he’s become today — an edge rusher Arthur believes is more advanced than he was when he left for Colorado.
“He’s light years ahead of where I was when I was playing,” Arthur said. “His determination and his mindset towards (football) have made a tremendous difference.”
Not only is Arthur his son’s defensive line coach at Cherry Creek, he also trains a group of Denver Broncos during the offseason. Arden, of course, joins in on those sessions.
“You had those guys that he got to see their actual work ethic and it made him actually turn it up,” Arthur said. “And one thing DeMarcus (Walker) would tell him all the time is he works out three times a day. And Arden did the same thing, he followed suit.”
On a typical day in the offseason, Arden lifts in the morning, works on speed and endurance with a personal trainer after that, then goes to the football field to refine his technique.
The younger Walker said his relationships have become a major part of his success and he keeps in contact with DeMarcus Walker and current Broncos linebacker Bradley Chubb.
“This past offseason, they really took me under their wing,” Walker said. “Demarcus Walker mostly, he’s kind of like a big brother to me, him and Bradley Chubb, they check in with me throughout the season and I try to show my support as well.”
Walker has always loved the game and that’s what’s allowed him to immerse himself in football.
“(Arden)’s got an outstanding football IQ,” Cherry Creek head coach Dave Logan said. “And not every really good player has that. But Arden understands situational football. And he loves the game.”
Walker was a two-time state champion at Creek. As a senior he racked up 10 tackles for loss and six sacks in seven games.
It’s not just his sheer football ability that has gotten him to this point, although his explosiveness and raw power jumps off the tape. He’s also been able to win college coaches over by who he is as a person.
“He’s been an outstanding individual,” Arthur said. “As far as just being a people person, as far as the academic side of things, he’s done a tremendous job of staying on top of that, and I think he’s a humble kid.”
Arden could follow in his dad’s footsteps by picking the Colorado hat. He could opt to play for a different family, someone he considers like an uncle in defensive coordinator (and Arthur’s CU teammate) Ryan Walters at Mizzou. Or he could forge his own path at UCLA, where he’ll have access to top-tier academics and get a chance to build contacts with the Los Angeles fashion scene.
“I want to have that opportunity to make (my dad) proud,” Walker said. “He shared the game, the game that he loves. And I feel like the least I could do is give it back to him.”
Arden Walker is not only the most sought-after uncommitted recruit in the state of Colorado, he’s also part of an incredibly talented senior class at Cherry Creek. The back-to-back Class 5A state champions have six other seniors expected to sign with FBS programs on Wednesday. Here’s a look at the loaded Bruins senior class:
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