Auburn, Ala.—When Jonathan Wallace got an offer and committed to the Auburn Tigers late in the 2012 recruiting season it was a surprise to many, but it didn’t come as a shock to Wallace or the Auburn coaching staff.
On Auburn’s radar early in the recruiting process after Wallace was a standout at one of Auburn’s camps for Gus Malzahn, Wallace remained on the Tigers’ board throughout his high school career. That continued when Scot Loeffler got the job as Auburn’s offensive coordinator and after having the chance to see Wallace and learn more about him, the first-year coordinator extended a late offer and the rest is history.
A standout for Central High in Phenix City both as a runner and passer, perhaps the most impressive part of Wallace’s game in high school was his leadership ability. Whether it was taking on a Cam Newton role late in games where he was the primary ball carrier, or throwing the football down the field when his team needed a big play, Wallace showed everyone that would watch that he was capable of playing football in the SEC after committing first to Southern Miss and then Central Florida before choosing the Tigers.
Arriving on the Auburn campus early in the summer Wallace wasted little time showing his teammates what he was all about. Whether it was his work ethic in voluntary workouts, showing up to watch film and study on his own, or just asking questions about the offense, Wallace earned their respect and it has carried over into preseason practice.
“I thank them for it, but you’ve just got to continue to grind out,” Wallace said of the early praise. “You can’t let one thing faze you. You just have to continue to grind out through it. Even though you’re getting praised and things like that, you have to remain humble and just continue to grind.”
Now battling to get into the discussion at the quarterback position with junior Clint Moseley and sophomore Kiehl Frazier, Wallace said it was been a tough transition for him, but he’s excited about the challenge.
“Everything, as far as the verbiage and all that, put into the system,” he said is the toughest thing to deal with. “That big transition from high school, that’s one of the biggest things. Other than that, of course, is mechanics. There are lot of things that you have to work on in college that you don’t to (work on) much get in high school.
“Of course, it’s another level,” he added. “It’s the SEC. It’s very fast. Everything’s fast, everything goes fast. So it’s just, pretty much, I’ll say everything. It’s a different level, and you’ve just got to work hard.”
That speed of the game is what has tortured many a true freshman quarterback over the years and it’s something that Wallace said you can’t prepare for until you see it in person, but the most difficult thing for him and the young players on offense is the size of the playbook and how much there is to learn. Wallace said he’ll just continue to work hard and see what happens.
“It’s like another class, honestly,” Wallace said. “We really have to study the playbook. It’s a day and night thing. You never stop. It’s just something you have to continue to do daily. It’s just one of those things.
“Nothing’s set in stone yet,” he added of the playing rotation. “I’m just going to continue to work hard and do what I came here to do.”
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