When you look at the Shenandoah Hornets football record book, you see a name that pops up everywhere, and is all over the receiving records.
That name is Senior Wide Receiver, Rico Wallace.
At 6’3, 210 pounds, Wallace is the proud owner of records for most passes caught in a game, most receiving yards in a game, most touchdowns in one game, longest reception from scrimmage, most points scored and is on the verge of passing Anthony Frates, the great running back of Shenandoah for most points in school history.
Rico was born in Annapolis, Maryland where he was the youngest of six boys. The family lost their father when Rico was one year old. Even though it was hard for their mother and brothers, Rico’s brother’s played a father- like figure in his life. He talked very highly of his family, saying “I love my mother, and my brothers, they have always given me support and watched my games.” When I asked him what his older brothers thought of his playing skills Rico stated “My brothers are always talking about the NFL, and how they want me to play for their favorite teams.” I asked Rico if he could see himself playing at the next level? He said, “Yes I could. That would be a dream come true, but if for some reason it doesn’t happen, I can always become a coach and mentor young children, which I have a passion for.” He mentors younger children off the field, for the Elementary Schools and loves teaching children the fundamentals of the game. Wallace has even mentored as an internship for the Boys and Girls Clubs in Shenandoah, in the off season to help the younger children in the area.
Wallace went to Meade High School where he played Quarterback his junior and senior year. He was named MVP his senior season and was honored by playing in the Baltimore Touchdown Club All Star Game, where he had an amazing performance and won MVP of the Game. When I asked him about the transition from Quarterback to Wide Receiver he said “It was rather easy, because I already had an idea of what the Quarterback had to do, and I knew where to position myself on the play so the throw could be made easier.” At Wide Receiver this year, Wallace has been amazing. He is using his upper body, to make adjustments, and going up for the ball. After his performance in week one of this year against Stevenson, I asked Wallace about his game where he ended with 7 receptions for 154 yards and 5 touchdowns, and he stated to me that “This game could have been better, I could have done some things better. We still need some work as a team, but I am happy with the Win.”
In his final game as a sophomore, Rico broke his right collar bone on the last play of the game, which has not been a major set-back for him. This is the only real injury Rico has suffered since playing football. Coach Jacoby said that Rico is a superb blocker downfield and helps open up lanes for the running backs, which is a rare talent for a receiver. Jacoby states “Rico is a person that we try to hold out of practice for rest, and when you turn around he sneaks back into the practice”. He never wants to let any of his team mates down, and will do anything to give others the spotlight. His never quit mentality is what makes him such a great wide receiver, and player. This year Rico is the leading receiver this year for the Hornets leading the team with 36 receptions for 733 yards and a league leading 10 touchdowns? Rico is averaging 146.6 yards per game and looks harder and harder for teams to cover week in and week out.
When watching film of Rico Wallace, you see a very smooth runner, who is able to weave in and out of traffic. He hits his step hard and makes clean fresh cuts. He has great hands, great size and he reminds me of Dez Bryant (without the attitude). He seems to make everyone on the field better. When asked about practice, Wallace said that “he tries the hardest he can, because he wants the defense to be ready for the opposing team’s receivers.” When I watch film on Rico Wallace, I noticed something he could improve on and that is reading the defense better, especially when they are in a zone defense. When I asked Rico about what he could do better, amazingly he said “Read the defense better”. This is when I knew that he was on the right path. He has been taking extra time in the game film room and is trying to better understand the zone schemes he faces.
Wallace might not be very high on NFL teams radars right now, but if he keeps playing the way he has, and gets into a major All Star game such as the East-West Shrine Game or accepted into a major Division 1 pro day, Rico Wallace might climb the boards as quick as Cecil Shorts III did last season, before getting selected in the 4th Round by the Jacksonville Jaguars. His big play capability will be loved by coaches at any level, and if he can continue this solid play, someone will be keeping their eyes on him, because his skill set is far better than everyone at the Division 3 level. When you watch the film of Rico Wallace, you don’t have to know what number he is to see him stick out, he has come a long way since last season and is going to be a game changer for some lucky NFL team.
While playing for Shenandoah, Rico has some pretty solid coaches that help him improve on the field. Line Coach, Joe Jacoby, the Former Washington Redskins Offensive Linemen said “He reminds me of Art Monk, a quiet and reserved individual, he is not a loud person he is within himself, you can barely hear him say hello. “ Jacoby knows a thing or two about football and when he compares him to Art Monk, he said the comparison is perfect, because “When the Redskins needed a play on 3rd and 4 or 4th and 4 they were going to Art, the same way we can do with Rico, he is a playmaker.” Wallace has been very good this season and has improved since last season. Last season he lacked getting the ball at its highest point and fighting off the cornerback for the ball. Head Coach Paul Barnes had some amazing things to say about his senior Wide Receiver, as well, saying “We don’t make plays for Rico, Rico makes plays for us.” Coach Barnes has been with the Shenandoah team since they opened the program and believes that “Rico has the ability to play at the next level, he has mental and physical toughness, and he has the desire and the intelligence to get to the next level. He understands how to run routes. Someone needs to take a really hard look at him, because he is phenomenal! He is only going to get better.” Coach Jacoby said “Wallace is a special person; he is humble, appreciative and will do anything to help anyone. He is a great role model, once you get to meet him you become a better person.”
As a silent leader, Rico Wallace might not be a household name, not one scout in the NFL, or any professional league has come out to see about Rico Wallace. Last year when the Green Bay Packers scout came out to see the Offensive Lineman and running back they noticed how well Rico played and took his measurements, but they didn’t come to see Rico. This year with Rico’s numbers both Coaches would love to see him get the exposure he deserves and hopefully has a chance to play in a major All Star game to showcase his talents. When you think of the great leaders, you see a humble person, a person that leads by example, and that is what you get out of Rico Wallace, he might not be the fastest guy on the field, or the emotional leader that you see in Ray Lewis, but one thing is for sure, on 4th and 4 for the win, you can count on #1 to shine.