Former Hardaway defensive lineman Walter Palmore had a decision to make in fall 2015.
Palmore was entering his redshirt freshman year at Coffeyville Community College when he was told he would not start for the Red Ravens. In his mind, he had three choices: Stay at Coffeyville, go home and wait or transfer to Eastern Arizona College, a junior college in Thatcher, Ariz.
Palmore said he took a chance and went with the third option. Last week, he finally saw that gamble pay off.
Palmore signed with Missouri last week on National Signing Day to continue his football career. The 6-foot-4, 300-pound Palmore signed with the Tigers after verbally committing to the team on Jan. 30.
He also had offers from Georgia, West Virginia, Kansas State and 10 other schools.
Palmore said his decision to sign with the Tigers stemmed from his visit just a few days before signing day.
“When I was there, I felt comfortable with the coaches,” Palmore said. “They told me I would come in and have playing time and stuff like that. That really helped in my decision.”
Palmore grew up in Columbus dreaming of playing Division I football. That dream hit a snag, however, in high school at Hardaway. His grades became a real issue starting with his freshman year.
It was a problem he could not rectify until his senior year.
“It was something I had to do,” Palmore said about improving his grades. “I just went ahead and did it. It felt good to finally get to play.”
Palmore played in his senior season at Hardaway and was named to the 2013 All-Bi-City team as an honorable mention. From Hardaway, Palmore went to Coffeyville, where he redshirted in the 2014 season before transferring.
In his freshman season at Eastern Arizona College, Palmore recorded 36 tackles along with five sacks. He followed that up in 2016 with 35 tackles with three sacks and one forced fumble.
Palmore said his time at Eastern Arizona College helped him improve in a number of areas. He said it was incredibly helpful in giving him more exposure, which started to become clear as teams reached out to him last spring. It also taught him to become more patient in the time before he was being recruited, as he said he knew his time would come.
Missouri has produced some of the best defensive linemen in the country, and now Palmore has the opportunity to join that group.
“They’ve already got a good D-line, so I’m just coming in and going with the flow,” Palmore said. “I want to put my feet in and try to make it better. That’s what I’m aiming for.”
Palmore’s move to the Southeastern Conference has Hardaway head coach Michael Woolridge excited about what it can mean for the Hawks of 2017 and beyond.
“Having a former player sign with a school in the elite conference of college football speaks volumes about the program and where it’s headed,” Woolridge said. “We plan on making that the norm at Hardaway.”