Burnell Wallace

Even though he's just a sophomore himself, WR Burnell Wallace has been thrust into the position of being one of the "older" guys in the wide receiver group. Due to that, he's gained a degree of maturity and is taking it upon himself to be a mentor to the incoming wideout prospects now working out on campus. Read about it inside.

Burnell Wallace is still a "pup" - in the world of college football - himself.

But with a recent collarbone injury to veteran Carlos Suggs (he's expected to be back by August), and really no other dominant upperclassmen at the WR slots, Burnell (also known as Mike) has had to assume the role of lead dog in the wide receiver pack this summer.

"I'm not an old player, but I'm older than they (the newcomers) are and I'm trying my best to help them any way I can," said Wallace. "We've got Kendrick Lewis, Shay Hodge, Dexter McCluster, Markeith Summers, Allen Walker and LaDerrick Vaughn all working in the volunteer workouts this summer with the wide receivers and they are all rookies with no coaches telling them anything.

"I'm going to do whatever I can to help them know as much as I know. With Carlos out now with his injury, I'm the one they are turning to and I'm glad to help."

There's two sides to that story as well, one Burnell smiles about and understands.

"They all want my job," said Wallace, who emerged from spring training as one of the number one wideouts. "I'm not going to let them have it though. Seriously, they are all great guys and we are having a lot of fun with the competition. We're all team guys, so we're all learning on the fly, I just happen to know more than they do now."

For all the routes run in 7-on-7 workouts, there has to be a quarterback to throw the passes. Burnell is impressed with what he's seen of the available arms this summer.

"The new guy, Cliff (Davis), is good. He throws the ball with a lot of velocity. He's going to be a good player. Seth (Adams), Billy (Tapp) and Conner (Wise) are also throwing the ball well," Wallace noted.

Burnell is not just focused on the younger guys. He has individual work to attend to as well.

"Individually, I've worked hard on being more consistent catching the ball, which I think I'm making strides with this summer," he continued. "Also, I've been working on my body. I'm now 192 pounds and have actually gotten faster. I was in the 170s when I came here and running in the 4.4s. Now I'm 192 and running in the high 4.3s. I feel good about my personal development."

Continuing to learn the new system is also something Burnell is working on this summer.

"It helps me to get questions from the younger guys because it keeps me sharp mentally," he said. "This is still a relatively new system for me as well."

From the cutups Burnell has watched of his spring performance, he's doing OK, but there is work to do.

"I'd sy I'm about 80% to where I want to be. I just need to keep working hard and learning. I know my position pretty well, but I need to learn every position so I can know what's going on around me and react the way I'm supposed to," he explained. "I also caught myself taking some plays off in spring and that won't get it done. There are no plays off on this level and I'm still trying to condition myself to get out of old bad habits."

Burnell's blocking in spring, partly due to his added bulk, showed vast improvement, something he's proud of.

"(WR) Coach (Matt Lubick) told me I was one of the most effective blockers in spring from the wide receiver position. I take pride in that. It's a big part of being a complete WR," he added.

Burnell's goals for August are simple.

"To keep my position at the top of the depth chart, to help the younger guys get better, to be the best I can be and to go full speed on every play," he closed. "The rest will take care of itself if I do all those things."

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