Tanner Wall, a 6’0, 165-pound two-sport athlete from Yorktown High School in Arlington, Virginia, racked up some impressive post-season honors after a stellar 2016 football season. Wall, a junior, went into the season expecting to play wide receiver, but was asked to take over at the quarterback position mid-way through the season.
“At the beginning of the season I was playing slot receiver as well as safety on defense and then returning kicks and punts,” Wall explained. “That was going great except for the fact that our quarterback wasn’t having a lot of time to get the ball out and we were struggling with a young O-line, so about week six our coach decided that he was going to have me get some snaps under center to see if we could run a more running-type offense and having a running threat back there in the backfield. So from that point on we started doing that. And I was able to still play on both sides of the ball and return kicks and punts so that was good. I got a lot of opportunities, a lot of touches on the offensive side of the ball.”
The unexpected position switch didn’t stop Wall from earning all-conference honors as an all-purpose performer on offense. He was also named all-conference as a defensive back, punt returner and kick returner, scoring a total of 11 touchdowns on the season. Wall averaged 6.8 yards per attempt running the ball and 14.2 yards per completion as a passer.
He also posted some incredible numbers as a return man, averaging 18.8 yards per punt return and 42.5 yards per kickoff return.
When asked what his favorite position was, Wall replied, “Probably back there at safety. I love the safety position and I got to make a lot of plays this season. We had some great defensive schemes that had me crashing down towards the line of scrimmage. I had exactly 100 tackles on the season as a DB, which is pretty sweet.”
In addition to breaking the century mark in tackles, Wall also recorded four interceptions, two forced fumbles and seven pass break-ups on the season. Wall put up these numbers against top-notch competition.
“Our conference is very strong this year,” Wall explained. “We actually had three teams that ended up being ranked in the top 20 in the DC-Maryland-Virginia area. I think we came in 5th in the conference. We did go 4-6, that was our final record. We lost five out of the six to top-20 teams. We had three conference opponents who were in the top 20 and two of the out-of-conference teams that we played who were in the top 20. We play in 6A, the highest division in Virginia.”
Wall’s coaches highlight his versatility as an athlete. “My coaches always marvel at my versatility, being able to play anywhere,” Wall added. “One of my other strengths is crisp routes and good hands. I worked on that a lot in the off-season. A lot of agility and footspeed and forty time stuff. Those are my strengths. Over the summer I had the opportunity to train with Jamal Willis, who played at BYU and played a little bit in the NFL. I worked with him when I was out West. I [also] ended up leading the agility work for my team over the summer. It was great.”
Wall’s versatility extends beyond the gridiron to the baseball diamond. When asked his plans for the spring, Wall confirmed that he will be playing baseball in addition to seven-on-seven football.
“This will be my second year for varsity baseball,” Wall said. “Last year as a sophomore I started varsity at six different positions throughout the season. I ended up making second team all-conference for outfield. I played centerfield for most of the games there. Our program for baseball is very solid, too. I ended up batting about .400 or .410. I had a pretty solid season.”
Wall started games in center field, left field, right field, second base, first base and catcher, but he has a favorite. “I love center field,” he noted. “Just being able to use my athleticism and make plays.”
Wall was invited to play on some showcase baseball teams after his sophomore season and playing baseball in college is also an option he would consider. He has attended the BYU baseball camp and likes head coach Mike Littlewood. “Two LDS kids from our conference are currently playing baseball for BYU,” Wall explained. “Pete Nielsen and Matt Favero are both there.” Nate Favero, a brother of Matt, is also currently a member of the Cougar baseball squad.
Wall has also attended BYU’s football camp in the past and plans to return again in 2017. He also has several other camps planned for the coming summer. ““I will definitely go to [Virginia] and I’m planning on doing Navy again,” Wall said. “Naval Academy camp last year was fantastic. A really great experience. And possibly West Point. Then going out west I plan on doing the BYU padded camp, I think Utah State, and then we’ll go down to Air Force.”
While BYU is one of many camps that he will attend, it is not just another school to him. “I’ve been raised in a big BYU family,” he said. “My dad loves BYU, the university, and BYU football especially, and he’s passed that onto me. I think it’s a wonderful university. Great academic standards and other standards. Definitely a school that I’d love to be able to go to.”
Wall’s uncle and fellow Yorktown star J.R. Thulin played defensive line for BYU in 2002 and 2003, so his Cougar roots run deep. Thulin was a 6’4, 300-pound defensive lineman, indicating that Wall may continue to add some size. “I’m 6-foot and 165-pounds now as a junior and I’m still growing,” he said.
Wall also excels in the classroom with a 4.1 weighted GPA and has definite mission plans. “I’m definitely planning to serve a mission,” he added. “If there are any opportunities to play sports at the next level I would probably leave straight out of high school on my mission, then play.”