Kareem Walker had just dropped by his DePaul High School (N.J.) coach's office Monday morning when his coach told Walker he had a text message he wanted to read to him.
It was from Tennessee's football staff, and the purpose was to offer the fast-tracking 2016 running back prospect a scholarship.
"It was a great opportunity to get an offer from Tennessee. I didn't really get to talk to the coaches because they were in meeting, but I just happened to be in the room talking to my coach and their coach had text my coach and he just read the message out loud. It's always really good to get an offer. You just feel good every time you get one and then you get another one and you just want to keep working hard."
Now holding early offers from Rutgers, Penn State, Temple, Michigan, Wake Forest and, most recently, Tennessee, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Walker won't let up. He learned of the Vols' offer Monday morning and yet didn't even share news with his teammates until after they all had completed their work in the weight room.
"It feels good, but I won't stop working hard. I haven't accomplished the ultimate goal. If you're not working hard then you're cheating yourself," said Walker, who split carries evenly in his DePaul backfield last year yet eclipsed 1,000 yards and scored a dozen touchdowns. "Got to work hard at everything in life; if you get satisfied you won't be great. Like (Monday), none of my teammates knew that Tennessee offered me. I didn't mention nothing inside the weight room because I didn't want to get them or me sidetracked. Didn't say nothing till after the fact. When we were in the weight room, I just got to business."
Walker said his primary offseason focus right now is getting his strength and weight up while shaving a little time off his 40-yard dash. He said his best 40 is a 4.5 and that he's also run a 4.6 in full football gear; Walker hopes to add 10 pounds and play his junior season at 205.
"My coach said I play some like DeAnthony Thomas and I like Melvin Gordon from Wisconsin, because I feel like I've got great vision and when I see the hole, I go. Once I break to the second level, I don't get caught."
But Walker would like to get caught up some more with the Vols' coaches. He said he doesn't yet know much about Tennessee but would be open to a trip to Rocky Top when he starts taking closer looks at schools this spring.
"Right now, I really don't know too much about Tennessee but would like to get to know more about it," Walker said. "I look forward to learning more stuff about the school in the future. On days we don't work out, I'm going to probably sit down with my coach and have a serious talk about taking visits during spring. I don't have any camps, yet."
Walker said he's been helped along in football and motivated by fellow New Jersey native Josh Evans, who played in the SEC at Florida before spending his rookie season in the NFL this past fall starting 11 game for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"My big brother really is Josh Evans," Walker explained. "I grew up not in a good neighborhood. He's in the NFL and now plays for the Jaguars. He always kept me out of trouble, always showed me how to play, how to work at football. I look at him as my big brother."