It's been a tough year for Brian Wallace, the freshman four star offensive tackle from Florissant, Mo. He's like the Maytag repairman, able and ready and ultra talented. But, he's been on idle during games as Arkansas relied on a senior captain at his eventual spot.
Since late in two-a-days it's been clear that Arkansas would redshirt the brilliant prospect, one of the prizes of Bret Bielema's second recruiting class. Wallace has been listed as the backup to senior Brey Cook at right offensive tackle and been on the travel squad all season. He participates in all workouts as the backup and even gets on the field in pre-game when the twos are put through their paces.
But Wallace has never been close to taking the field in games as Cook has stayed healthy. It was clear by the start of conference play the Hogs were not going to pull the redshirt off the 6-6, 315-pound U.S. Army All-American.
Considered the No. 2 offensive tackle prospect by one service and offered by Alabama, Missouri, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan State and Nebraska among others, Wallace has dazzled in bowl practices -- as he has all season in developmental workouts. His foot quickness and speed are easy to spot, amazing considering his size.
"He's going to be a great player," Sam Pittman said in August. "It's just we don't want to waste a season of eligibility if we can't get him enough snaps and with Brey there, we didn't think we would."
Wallace said Pittman provided the insight into the program early in two-a-days. He pointed to several offensive line stars in the NFL that he'd taken through a redshirt as a true freshman.
"I knew what it would be early," Wallace said. "Fundamentally, I had to learn a lot of new things. I thought redshirting was a good idea and it was fine with me because there was so much to learn. It's a real physical game, but the speed is what is different."
It's not that Wallace lacks speed. He has quickness, foot speed and straight ahead speed. He's as athletic and gifted as any offensive line prospect the Hogs have had. He's not as massive as Shawn Andrews, the best UA tackle. Andrews weighed 375 at times. But at 315, he's big and beautiful and about 20 pounds heavier than when he arrived at Arkansas.
"He is beautiful," Pittman said. "He has great feet. That's what you see right away. One thing we had to do, get those feet to hit the right spots. He gets them going so fast and they seem to go in all different directions. We had to slow them down a little bit and train them."
Wallace smiled when told those Pittman lines.
"Coach Pittman said I had to calm my feet down," Wallace said. "That was the main thing I had to learn. There were struggles and there were successes. I had to learn to be on my own. That's what college is about, learning how to manage things on your own."
What was the biggest adjustment?
"Bacically, everything," he said. "It's a new offense, it's new plays. I've had to learn basically everything new. It's made me a better player.
"I've learned the speed of the game. We go against speed in the SEC. So that's what I've had to adjust to."
Wallace seems well adjusted now. Pittman said the speed of the game is coming to him, especially during the bowl practices. It's been a heavy work load for Wallace. He works with the second team during the regular portion of Texas preparations. Then, when head coach Bret Bielema calls the developmental players back for an extra hour of practice, Wallace has gotten that work, too.
"It's gone pretty well," Wallace said. "We've gotten in a lot of physical work. We've learned to grind it out.
"It's been helping me out a lot, exposing me to a lot of different things.
"I've worked with the second team in the first part of practice, then I stay out with the freshmen and redshirts in the extra practice so I'm getting both."
There won't be any snaps in the bowl game against Texas. But as a green TV reporter went from player to player in the media room -- obviously thinking everyone in the interview room was a regular -- he got to partake of the general questions about playing the Longhorns. He handled it like a veteran.
"It will be a heated game," Wallace said. "I'm just finding out about the rivalry part of this game. I know there is a lot of tension between the two schools. I'm in a new family and I'm learning about it."
Wallace Waiting Patiently
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