Since the summer camps at Nebraska last year, A.J. Wallace's name has surfaced as intriguing more than anything, because at that point he still had two years to play. Now, it's different. Now, the junior year is over and the recruiting has been heating up and before you know it, A.J. Wallace is going to be intriguing to everyone in the country.
For Wallace himself, he's not worried about it at this point. "When I got my first offer from Nebraska, they were telling me to just put it away and think about playing and school and not about the offer or what it means," A.J. said. "So, I have been doing that, just making sure that I concentrate on what I need to do before I ever get to college."
That was easy during Summer last year when Nebraska was his only offer and even now, it might not be so bad even with additional offers from Michigan, Maryland, Virginia and Penn State. But, that's going to change, because once the word REALLY gets out on McDonough's star player, A.J. Wallace will replace names like Michael Ray Garvin, Reggie Smith and Kenneth Phillips as one of the very best in the entire country.
Of course, A.J. has only himself to blame. After all, if you rush for over 1,300 yards in a year while scoring over 25 touchdowns, catch 12 balls for over 200 yards, scoring twice and you intercept 3 balls on defense while tallying a whopping 17 pass break ups on the season, yeah, schools are going to take notice.
Wallace says about that performance, though, that it was his first year of really knowing what was going on. "My sophomore year, I don't know, I was just kind of doing whatever they told me," he said. "but, this last year, I was able to make plays, react and do things I already knew how to do. It was exciting, but I know I haven't played even close to my best ball."
Following a season where A.J. and company helped McDonough to it's best finish in almost a decade, taking the team to the playoffs, his hopes are high about what the entire team can do. Admittedly, A.J. is also excited about the recruiting, because he looks at it as options and the more options he has for the future, the better. "If you can have your choice of the school you want to go to, you can't ask for much more than that," he said. "So, I am just looking forward to see how this all goes and just look at all the schools looking at me." Wallace can add schools like USC, Miami, Texas and a ton more than are sending him letters, those letters going into a box that is getting steadily more full by the day.
A.J. isn't looking that far ahead. In fact, he's not even looking to the summer when camps around the country will be gearing up to hopefully host some of the country's best. There is one event, though, that A.J. will be attending, that to come this April. "I am going to the spring game with David," A.J. said of attending the annual spring scrimmage of the Nebraska Cornhuskers with former teammate and future Husker, David Harvey. "Other than that, I don't have any plans for anything else right now."
Since that camp at Nebraska and since that offer, his first of his recruiting experience, there has been a lot to learn and that has been said about the Huskers and how he would fit in there. And, none more has been said than by Harvey himself, a player that A.J. not only considers a former temmate, but an irreplaceable friend. "He's like a brother to me," Wallace said. "We haven't known each other for a long time, but we are close, real close."
Husker fans will no doubt take that as good news, but like most recruits of Wallace's caliber, they not only have their physical ability well in hand, but some ideas about the future. And, again, when it comes to options, Wallace is probably going to have any and all he can handle. "David and I are close, but my decision will always come down to what is best for me," A.J. said. "If the school has my major (sports management), how I feel when I visit there, all kinds of things that are going to be important about my future."
Ok, we'll give him that, but as he said, David has been "working it" since the day he committed to NU and A.J. said that while he's not willing to give Nebraska an edge right now, the insight from someone now on the team doesn't hurt the Huskers' chances. "If I want to know something, I know he'll give it to me straight," Wallace said. "He's there, has visited, will be playing there, so there's a lot to draw on as far as what I want to know about the school, the team and the coaches."
The choices don't stop there for Wallace, because every single school that has offered him and is recruiting him has one position they would him to play – any position he wants.
Let me tell you something about recruiting and positions. This has become the day and age of specialists. Third-down backs, short yardage backs, drop-back quarterbacks and dual-threat quarterbacks. Speed-rushers, inside rushers, linemen for run-stopping or primarily used in 3-technique. It's just not that common that the best of the best schools out there go to a kid and say ‘play whatever you want, we just want you'.
That's when you know you're good………..real good.
So, A.J. doesn't have to just choose a school. He won't just have his choice of where to make his official visits, but he's probably going to have to choose at some point the position he wants to play, because everyone says they don't care, they just want him as a part of their team.
That's where it all stands for a player that will be on the tips of the tongues of die-hard recruitniks all over the country, but especially Husker fans right now. There's a little history here, a definite connection so the drama will only build with time. Will A.J. become the next Marlon Lucky, Nebraska scoring yet another five-star recruit or will he become another Reggie Smith?
We'll find out over time, but that's the lure of recruiting and Wallace plans to have as much fun as he can along the way. "I just want to take it all in and experience it for what it is," Wallace said. "I think it should be fun, but I'll try not to get to wrapped up into it and make sure I have a great senior year."