Fremd's offensive lineman Jack Walsh commits to Wyoming, continues family legacy
It was the snowmobiling in the mountains that really got John Walsh.
Walsh grew up in the Chicago suburbs and had never been on a snowmobile until he went on a football recruiting visit to the University of Wyoming back in the mid-1980s.
"It was pretty cool, snowmobiling in the mountains," said Walsh, an offensive lineman for Driscoll High School. "I had other offers, but I wanted to try another part of the country and go somewhere different and Wyoming was really different."
In July, Walsh got to show his son Jack what he fell in love with in Wyoming. Jack, a senior offensive lineman at Fremd, also got an offer to play football at the University of Wyoming. But due to COVID-19, official athletic visits aren't happening on college campuses across the country.
So John Walsh took Jack to Wyoming to walk around campus on their own, then he took him to the same trails that he went snowmobiling on during his recruiting visit more than 30 years ago.
"It was July so there wasn't snow, so we rented an ATV and we went all over those trails because I wanted to give Jack a taste of what life is like out there," John Walsh said. "My parents live on a lake in Minnesota and that's Jack's favorite place. He loves to go fishing and be outside. I figured those trails in Wyoming would be Jack's kind of thing."
John Walsh figured right.
Jack Walsh fell in love this summer with the scenery and the nature and everything that Wyoming the state and Wyoming the university had to offer. And last week, he committed to play football at Wyoming, an FBS program that has been to back-to-back bowl games.
"During the recruiting process, I never really thought about trying to go where my dad went, but the first time the offensive line coach from Wyoming texted me, I thought, 'Wow, that would be sweet, that would be pretty special to go to the same place as my dad,' " Jack Walsh said. "My dad has told me a lot of his good memories of playing there and it was fun walking around there."
It was the second time Walsh had been to the campus. Not that he remembers the first time.
Walsh was just 2 years old when he was traveling along with his parents for a reunion that John attended on campus at Wyoming. At one point, while the family was at the football stadium, Jack's mom Kathy went to the parking lot to change his diaper.
"The head football coach happened to see my mom changing me in the back of the rental car and asked if she needed any help," Jack Walsh said. "She ended up changing me in his office."
Walsh has done quite a bit of growing up since then.
He is now 6-foot-4, 295 pounds and has impressed recruiters with his rare combination of size and speed. He was also strongly considering an offer from Kent State and had FCS offers from Eastern Illinois, Southern Illinois, Illinois State and South Dakota, among others.
"The linemen at Wyoming are really fast and they run an offense there that is similar to the offense we run at Fremd," Walsh said. "When people think of me as an offensive linemen, they think athletic and so do the coaches at Wyoming. They think I will fit in there with my athleticism. We'll see what happens when I show up with playing time. If they need me to play right away, I'd be more than willing to do that. But if they want me to redshirt, that would be awesome too so that I could get that extra time to learn the playbook and get bigger."
Either way, Walsh, who plans to major in kinesiology so that he can learn more about weightlifting and teaching weightlifting, is excited about the atmosphere surrounding the football program at Wyoming.
Whenever college football resumes, he says that the fans there will be ready.
"It's a great area for football because there is no NFL team there, so the college team is their NFL team," Walsh said. "I was watching gameday videos of Wyoming football the other day and football there is very important. The football stadium is at the epicenter of the campus and people there get really excited about football."
Meanwhile, John Walsh is excited to get back to his old stomping grounds even more. And he's excited that his son is carrying on a family legacy.
"It makes me feel really good," John Walsh said. "I'm so proud of Jack that he's getting to play college football, and the fact that he's going to the same place I did is really cool."