The chance to play right away was too much to pass up for Carson High offensive lineman Eric Walther.
Walther passed up partial scholarship offers from other schools to sign to play football with NAIA Southern Oregon on Tuesday. Southern Oregon lost four of its five offensive linemen from last year's team, so Walther will have a chance to step in and play right away.
"Based on what they've seen on film they're planning on me starting as a freshman," Walther said. "Which is another reason why I chose there."
Among the schools who recruited Walther were Division I-AA Idaho State and Humboldt State, the University of Mary in Bismark, N.D. and North Dakota's Dickinson State, all Division II schools. Among the school who offered Walther partial scholarships were Mary and Humboldt. Several Ivy League schools also talked to Walther, who has aspirations of going to law school.
Dickinson State also talked to Walther about possibly participating in track and that possibility is also there at Southern Oregon. Walther said that Southern Oregon has also told him it will offer him at least a partial scholarship if he becomes a starter.
"I really enjoyed myself," said Walthera about his visit to Southern Oregon. "The atmosphere there is really similar to Carson. I felt like that is a place I can live the next four years. I'm just happy the recruiting process is over."
Walther is 6-2, 240 and it's likely he'll bulk up to 260-270 while at Southern Oregon. But Walther said he was told "size is probably the last think you need to worry about."
Southern Oregon is looking at him to play center or guard, Walther said. Walther said that all the schools were impressed with his ability "to get to the second level," that is his ability to block linebackers.
Walther was a three-year starter at Carson and started both ways his last two years. He earned all-state honors this past season. "He basically never came off the field for two years," Carson coach Shane Quilling said.
Walther credited Quiling and the Carson coaching staff for his chance to move on. "I don't think I'd be able to take it to the next level," said Walther if he didn't have Quilling's help. "He's been unbelievable."
"It had nothing to do with me," Quilling said. "He's put in the time in the last four years in the weight room.
"You don't go to the next level without a lot of work. I think he's going to do just fin. He's got the right work ethic."
Walther should be one of the top throwers in Northern Nevada this season and got off to an impressive start on Saturday at a meet in Manogue, with an strong early throw of 49 feet, one inch in the shot put. He also threw the discus 131 feet in the snow.
Walther will join two other locals at Southern Oregon and several locals at the NAIA level next year. Dayton running back Shane VanZant, who overcame cancer and went on to play at Shasta College, will also attend Southern Oregon.
Walther's teammate, Bryan Maffei, has signed to play at Carroll where he could end up as a defensive back. Yerington lineman Ryan Gilmore has also signed at Carroll where he's being looked at as a tight end or linebacker.