"They called right before when their pick was up on the screen," said Wallace after stepping off a plane at the Des Moines International Airport Monday afternoon. "My phone rang and they told me they were on the clock and were thinking about getting me. Then all of a sudden Coach Holmgren got on the phone and said, ‘Congratulations, you're a Seahawk.' I got really excited. He said they were drafting me as a quarterback and that's what they wanted me as."
Wallace received some bad press from NFL scouts in the months leading up to the draft for his insistence on staying at his desired position at the next level. He set ISU records for total offense and passing yards in a season after signing on as a JUCO transfer in 2001, and earned the Big 12's offensive newcomer of the year award as a junior.
The situation he enters in Seattle has Wallace optimistic for a number of different reasons.
"It's very encouraging, somebody giving me the opportunity to play quarterback," he said. "They believe in me and believe I can play quarterback at the next level. Hopefully good things will come out of the situations. It's just a whole learning process for me right now.
"I think my chances are good. It's going to be hard learning the whole West Coast offense. They have two quarterbacks there right now, (Matt) Hasselback and (Trent) Dilfer, and I'm going to go in and learn from them. They've been in the system. I just want to take my time and not rush anything. If I get the opportunity to play in the preseason, I just want to be productive."
Seahawks general manager Bob Ferguson was able to overlook Wallace's 5-foot-11, 196-pound frame and look at Wallace's skills and intangibles in making the former Cyclone his fourth-round choice.
"I'm not worried about his height so much as some people maybe are," said Ferguson in an interview with the Seattle Times. "But I know one thing: he's got great feet, he's a great competitor and I think he's going to really add a lot to what we bring coming off the bench and when he gets his chance to play."
"I'm definitely a fan of Mike Holmgren's," Wallace said. "He's a quarterback coach and helped groom Brett Favre. I know they've got good facilities and a great coaching staff, so I'm going to have a good time."
Surprisingly, the Seahawks were not one of the teams that had expressed much interest in Wallace leading up to Sunday. Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Miami and Kansas City were among the clubs that made the most inquiries.
"I never really had too much contact with Seattle and that's why it kind of surprised me," he said. "There were a lot of other teams, so I didn't really know what was going to happen."
With much of his family in northern California, Wallace will get to play closer to home.
"It's good for my family, because they can make some of the games," he said. "It's not a far flight from Sacramento. Just getting back to the West Coast is good, because I haven't been back there in a long time. I'm anxious to learn the West Coast offense, because it's going to be all new to me."
Wallace said he is scheduled to report for the first of two rookie camps next Friday, then will have a month off before heading back to Seattle for another.
He is one of at least four former Cyclones headed for the NFL, as linebacker Jeremy Loyd (Cincinnati), linebacker Matt Word (New England) and center Zach Butler (Carolina) signed free agent contracts since the conclusion of yesterday's draft.
Cornerback Atif Austin told CN he expects to sign on with a team by Tuesday.