The first time Marcus Walker committed to play football for Kentucky came when he wasn't quite ready for such an important decision.
Back in January, the highly touted safety from Florida liked everything the UK coaching staff was telling him, and the Wildcats represented his "best" scholarship offer at the time. He'd never visited Lexington as a football recruit, but he decided to go ahead and commit to UK anyway.
Three months later, he backed out of that pledge.
"I just wanted to explore my options and see what schools would come at me," Walker told the Herald-Leader last week. "They were sad that I did it, but they understood that I committed too early. They just kept talking to me and staying on me, like they really wanted me. They've treated me like family."
Three months after his decision to back out of the UK pledge, Walker says he has more than 30 scholarship offers from programs all over the country. Still, the Wildcats are one of his favorites.
The 6-foot prospect from Lake Wales, Fla., is considered the No. 16 safety in the class of 2015 by both ESPN and Rivals.com. ESPN grades him as a four-star prospect, and he's the top-rated three-star safety in the Rivals rankings.
Walker, who has a 3.8 grade-point average, said the schools that are recruiting him all like the same things.
"They like how smart I am and that I can read offenses very easily," he said. "They like how I come downfield and make open-field tackles. They like how I rally to the ball and go get the ball out of the air. They say I'm a ball-hawk."
Walker managed to snag six interceptions last season despite leaving the second game of the year with a broken ankle, which kept him out of action until right before the playoffs. He said his goal as a senior is 11 interceptions, and to stay healthy, of course.
First, he'll likely make his final college decision.
Walker recently named Kentucky, Arkansas and Michigan State as his top three schools, though he told the Herald-Leader that the Wildcats and the Spartans were the two "clear leaders" as of late last week. Later in the conversation, Walker mentioned that he "really liked" the SEC.
He visited both East Lansing and Fayetteville in mid-June, but he hasn't come to UK on a recruiting trip. So far, his only visit to Lexington was for an AAU basketball tournament.
That is to change later this month.
Walker plans a trip to the Bluegrass for the weekend of July 18. He said his final college decision will most likely come during the visit or the day after he returns home to Florida.
That timetable seems like a plus for the Wildcats.
One of his close friends and high school teammates — four-star center Luke Hiers — is already part of UK's recruiting class of 2015, but Walker says Hiers hasn't tried to influence his decision.
The appeal of UK, he says, is the chance to be a part of something new.
Even after he decommitted, Walker continued to follow the recruiting fortunes of Mark Stoops and his coaching staff. He said — with a hint of pride — that he'll be the first defensive back to join the 2015 class if he commits to the Cats later this month.
"When I visit, I'm just hoping it feels like home. And I hope it feels like a family up there and has a great atmosphere," Walker said.
"Mark Stoops coming in for his second year, they're up-and-coming and they're recruiting the players to do it. If it's possible, I just want to be part of that change. And to make a name for myself up there."
Ben Roberts: (859) 231-3216. Twitter: @NextCats. Blog: UKrecruiting.bloginky.com.