May 18, 2022


Bolingbrook safety Damon Walters calls college interest a ‘blessing’

Damon Walters

Damon Walters didn’t expect it to start so fast.

The Bolingbrook junior knew some schools might show interest in the safety by the end of his junior year, but when Tennessee offered Walters his first scholarship on May 17 after his sophomore spring season ended, Walters was surprised.

That interest from schools across the country hasn’t stopped since Tennessee opened the floodgates, and he’s grateful to be in this position.

“It’s been a blessing for sure to even have these offers in the first place,” Walters said. “Getting all of them, it’s been nice to meet all these coaches and build the relationships, and just to learn more about the schools and see what they have to offer.”

The 6-foot-1, 175-pound safety is one of Illinois’ top Class of 2023 talents.

College coaches have taken notice of Walters’ talents. Syracuse followed Tennessee a few days later. Vanderbilt and Iowa State offered during the summer, while Kansas, Army and Missouri offered in the fall. Miami of Ohio and Northwestern offered in the winter.

Walters never really thought about playing college football growing up. He played youth football and tried to do his best. He started to learn more about the process as he became older and now is excited to see how his hard work is being recognized.

“Just seeing all these coaches giving me an opportunity to play on their teams, it’s just crazy because I never thought about it as a kid to play at this high of a level,” Walters said. “Just all the work I’m putting in, just trying to get more opportunities to play. It’s a crazy feeling.”

Bolingbrook coach John Ivlow wasn’t surprised so many coaches have taken notice. Besides the physical attributes that make Walters so enticing as a college football player, he’s also selfless, according to Ivlow.

Ivlow played Walters at cornerback as a freshman, then moved him to safety and then played him at different positions, wherever Ivlow needed him. Walters could’ve played outside linebacker if needed, but the junior stayed in the secondary where he’s been a dominant force.

“He’s got all the tools,” Ivlow said. “He’s got the smarts, he’s got the size, he’s got the ability to hit, and that’s all the things the major colleges are looking for, and when you have all of that you’re going to get some looks.”

Ivlow has helped Walters manage the process. Ivlow has guided many players through the recruiting process and has helped Walters manage his time to talk to coaches while also making sure the junior takes care of his schoolwork and practice.

Walters already has visited Iowa State, Vanderbilt, Missouri, Purdue and Northwestern. He plans to take some more visits to campuses for junior days because he wants to learn more about each program, looking for the right fit.

“I want a good education where I can get a good job after college football or the NFL,” Walters said. “Somewhere the coaches can build good relationships with their athletes on and off the football field. I want to go somewhere it feels like home.”

Walters still wants more. He appreciates the attention that he’s gotten but he knows that he still can get better and improve his game with work this offseason.

While he didn’t expect the process to start as soon as it did, he’s ready for the challenge to become better with a strong senior season.

“It motivates me a lot because I know this senior season there are going to be a lot of eyes on me, just really pushing me to do better, and people think better of me,” Walters said.

Michal Dwojak

Michal Dwojak

Michal is an award-winning sports journalist based in Chicago. He most recently served as the sports editor of The Glenview Lantern and Northbrook Tower and is a graduate of the College of Media at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.