Noah Walters is on a tear.
The 6-foot, 195-pound Lincoln East quarterback has passed for 1,226 yards and 17 touchdowns in his last three games. His six-game total of 2,045 yards, 28 touchdowns through the air and one interception have him on the verge of a record-setting season.
The Class A record for passing yards in a single-season is 3,249 set by Lincoln High’s Cedric Case in 2017. The single-season passing touchdown record of 46 (Jadyn Kowalski, Bellevue West, 2015) is also within reach. Walters still has three regular season games plus a potential playoff run with his East (5-1) teammates to put his name in the record books.
What isn’t on a tear, ironically, is Walters’ recruitment. Two Division II schools, Bemidji State and a Wednesday night offer from Wayne State, are his only two committable offers.
The arm strength, intangibles and stats are there. So what is the hiccup for next-level recruiters?
“Sometimes they can’t overlook my height,” Walters said. “I don’t know what it is but sometimes they just probably look at me and see someone that is 6-foot and think they can get someone taller.”
The list of offers may begin to grow soon. Schools that have reached out to the senior run the spectrum from junior colleges, Division II and the power conferences.
“I’m planning on going to Iowa State this weekend (Saturday),” he said. “I was invited to Drake, Wayne State, Bemidji, Augustana and Central Missouri.”
Walters isn’t a big self-promotion-on-social-media guy. He prefers to let his play do the talking. And the goods beyond the statistics are there, said East coach John Gingery.
“He’s a leader on and off the field. The kid does everything you ask him to do and more. When he doesn’t perform at his best he is always down to do more,” Gingery said. “That is the kind of kid he is. He makes everyone around him better. He makes our receivers better and brings a ton to the table.”
It’s no secret that East’s offense has evolved from a run-first unit to more of an air raid system that wants to strike fast. The change came with Walters and his talented receivers.
“I mean we’ve never had that kind of talent overall. We’ve had some great kids but not all the way around balanced like it is,” Gingery said. “That is just so tough on defenses. You got somebody that can go vertical at any time, and a good running game just makes everything easier and makes me pretty dang smart.”
The coach and quarterback relationship is key at any level of football. Gingery recognizing Walters’ abilities and changing an offense to suit them is something the quarterback appreciates.
“It is awesome. I didn’t really expect that as much at first,” Walters said. “The fact that he switched from a power-run coach to throw it 30 plus times a game is awesome. It means he believes in me and he definitely adjusted to the kids around him.”
Walters is confident in his potential as a next-level quarterback. The perfect fit for his talent is what he is looking for in college.
“I know that I can play Division I either FCS or a group- of-five school, but it is all about finding the best fit and the offense that fits best for me,” Walters said. “A spread air raid offense that throws the ball on the run and in the pocket is what I think would be the best fit for me.”
The uncertainty surrounding scholarship availability at Division I schools has also been a hindrance to his recruitment.
“You know a lot of it now is a lot of schools have kids coming back for a sixth year, and I’ve talked to a lot of coaches that said right now they just don’t know,” Gingery said. “I’m telling you this kid can play and he has heart.
“Craig Bohl at Wyoming told me he’s probably a kid that will come in here and beat us. That is the kind of kid he is, and you know what? He is exactly right, he’s exactly right.”
A multisport athlete, Walters also plays baseball for the Spartans. He plans to play baseball in the spring and hasn’t closed the door on playing both football and baseball collegiately.
“I would play baseball but my mind is on football right now,” he said. “Augustana has talked to me about doing both.”
The junior college route is something he is open to if the right situation doesn’t present itself at a four-year school. Iowa Western is one school that has been in contact and has given Omaha-area products like Nate Glantz (Bellevue West) and Jake Waters (Council Bluffs St. Albert) a chance to show they belong as Division I quarterbacks. Waters went to Kansas State and started 26 games.