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Rapid ascension lands ‘Fresh’ Walters a Division I scholarship

After an outstanding junior season – his first as a high school football player – Roger “Fresh” Walters has received interest from several Division I schools. The St. Lucie West Centennial High School senior wide receiver, cornerback and kick returner has verbally committed to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. (Courtesy photo)

PORT ST. LUCIE — “One year, Division I scholarship.”

That summation – in the words of Aaron Gluff – is all it took for Roger “Fresh” Walters, who grew up at the Seminole Tribe’s Chupco’s Landing in Fort Pierce, to achieve a football scholarship from an NCAA Division I program, something that eludes thousands of high school football players who play four years.

Roger “Fresh” Walters

Gluff, the defensive coordinator and strength coach for St. Lucie West Centennial High School, describes Walters as an elite athlete.

“The sky is the limit for him. He’s just scratching his potential,” Gluff said. “This year I think is going to be huge for him. He should be starting on both sides of the ball and playing special teams.”

Centennial’s season starts Aug. 20 with a preseason kickoff classic game at Astronaut. The regular season begins Aug. 26 at home against West Prep Academy.

Walters is a 5-foot-9, 170-pound senior wide receiver, cornerback and kick returner who recently verbally committed to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The 49ers play in Conference USA, which includes teams such as Marshall, Southern Miss and Texas El-Paso as well as Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton and Florida International in Miami.

Being able to play perhaps once or twice a year in his home state and close to the Seminole Tribe is important to Walters.

“That’s a big thing for me. More of my family will be able to come to my games,” said Walters, who is a Seminole descendent.

That family includes his mom Sheree Sneed, a tribal member. He also has younger siblings and his aunt Crystal Sneed is the Fort Pierce Tribal Council liaison.

The nickname “Fresh” has been with Walters just about since day one.

“My teachers call me it, my coaches call me it, people that I don’t even know call me it. I go with that name,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a story behind it. I was just called it when I was born.”

He quickly made his name known at Centennial and the area football scene last fall when he excelled as a junior in his first season of high school football. According to stats on the website Hudl, he scored eight touchdowns, including four as a kick/punt returner.

“My junior season was really me feeling it out. I did decent; I led the area in special teams, but this year is the year where I really know the game now. This is going to be my breakout year,” Walters said.

His talent on offense isn’t limited to receiver; he was involved in runs and even took a few snaps last year. Defensively, he was a shutdown standout at corner.

“I don’t think he had a pass caught on him,” Gluff said.

The development of Walters’ athleticism can be traced back to Chupco’s, where he lived from about age five to 13. The opening of a new gymnasium at Chupco’s in 2014 made a huge impact for Walters, who honed his basketball skills there day and night.

“That gym was really important,” Walters said. “If it wasn’t a school day, I would be in there from 8 (a.m.) until the day was over. If it was a school day, when I’d get out of school, that’s where I would be at. I wouldn’t come home until the gym closed.”

Although he no longer lives at Chupco’s, the tribe remains an important part of his life.

“Always represent the tribe. It’s very important,” he said.

He wears chains from the tribe. He goes hog-hunting and dirt bike riding on the Brighton Reservation with the Bakers, his cousins. He’s played for tribal basketball teams in two NAYO tournaments, and in July was among the top performers at the Native American Basketball Invitational in Phoenix where he poured in 30-point plus games that included several dunks.

In high school basketball, Walters has been a starting guard since his freshman year. (He transferred to Centennial from Treasure Coast after his sophomore year). He’s earned All-Area honors.

Football hasn’t replaced basketball at the top of his agenda – he says he loves both sports equally.

“I still take basketball serious. I want to do everything 110 percent,” he said.

But the gridiron is where Walters has attracted more recruiting attention.

Charlotte coaches watched him at a football camp at Mercer University in Georgia. When Walters visited Charlotte, he was offered the scholarship.

“I really liked the campus. It’s like a calm campus,” he said. “I really enjoyed not only the coaches and players, but the coaches really made me feel at home and to this day they still check up on me every day to make sure everything is going good with me. The players made me feel at home and welcomed, so I was like ‘I love being around these guys.’”

In addition to Charlotte, Walters said he also received an offer from FIU. He said other schools that have shown interest in him include the University of Buffalo, FAU and Mercer. He said he’s had talks with Florida State.

Gluff said recruiting interest in Walters would be higher had the pandemic not ruined the showcase camp schedules.

“I think he would have been a guy who had a lot more offers coming into this year, but Covid last year cancelled the camp season, so there were none of those exposure camps for him to go to and where his athleticism would have really shown people what he can do,” he said.

Walters realizes that when he starts playing college football, he will not only be representing St. Lucie and Centennial, but also the tribe.

“That means a lot, to be able to represent; show the Division I colleges we’ve got some people here at the Seminole Tribe that can take it far as well,” he said. “We’re definitely overlooked in sports.”

But as opponents and recruiters are learning, it’s hard to overlook Walters.

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Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. Contact Kevin at kevinjohnson@semtribe.com.
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