Temple's Walker: Rutgers 'didn't want me' as a QB

Temple's P.J. Walker, scrambling against Army, said he was disappointed when Rutgers offered him a scholarship as an athlete, not a quarterback. MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff
Temple's P.J. Walker, scrambling against Army, said he was disappointed when Rutgers offered him a scholarship as an athlete, not a quarterback. MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff
Posted: October 31, 2013

Thanks, but no thanks.

That's pretty much how Temple's freshman quarterback, P.J. Walker, describes a brief dalliance with Rutgers during the recruiting process last year.

Walker will lead the visiting Owls (1-7, 0-4 American Athletic Conference) against Rutgers (4-3, 1-2) on Saturday.

The quarterback grew up in Elizabeth, N.J., and had some interest in playing at nearby Rutgers. But he said the Scarlet Knights didn't see him as a fit for their pro-style offense.

Walker said Rutgers was willing to offer him a scholarship as an athlete, not a quarterback.

"Rutgers was the only school that offered me as an athlete," said Walker, who will make his fourth start on Saturday. "So they were out of the picture as soon as they offered me as an athlete.

"I would be lying if I said that I wasn't disappointed. It's the big school in Jersey; I'm from Jersey. But everything happens for a reason. They didn't want me as a quarterback. Temple gave me the chance to come in and compete. That was all I could ask for."

Second-year Rutgers coach Kyle Flood did not address the recruitment of Walker directly.

"The recruiting process is different and ultimately a player has to find the right place and the right system for them," Flood said. "Universities around the country have to find the right players for their system.

"A player who performs well in one system may not perform very well in another system," Flood added, "and that's why it's good for both the players and the universities to have options."

Temple coach Matt Rhule continues to grow more excited over what the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Walker may become. On Saturday, Walker completed his first 16 passes and finished 26 of 37 with four touchdowns and no interceptions in a 59-49 loss at SMU.

"Oh, he's a quarterback," Rhule said. "Some people get caught up in the height and weight thing. But after meeting him and watching him on tape, I knew he was a quarterback. Our offense fits what he can do and he has a high quarterback acumen."

As well as Walker is playing, however, he's still a freshman. And he also is backed up by a suspect defense that hemorrhaged 728 yards and eight touchdowns against SMU.

"We have to string together four quarters," Rhule said. "That's what good teams do. We haven't done that yet."

For Rutgers, Gary Nova started every game at quarterback last year, when he passed for 2,695 yards and 22 touchdowns. This season the junior has completed 109 of 193 passes for 1,511 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.

Flood benched Nova in the second half of a 49-14 home loss to Houston on Saturday. Flood said he would decide Thursday whether he would start Nova or go with backup Chas Dodd against Temple.


jmitchell@philly.com

@JmitchInquirer

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