The NFL Draft is an unpredictable science, but through his emergence as one of the better deep threats in the Southeastern Conference last season, former Ole Miss Rebel Mike Wallace is making a rapid climb.
As the consummate competitor possessing unparalleled speed, Wallace established single-season school records as a senior in Red and Blue, with 1,737 all-purpose yards and 861 yards in kick returns.
His achievements don't end there, as Wallace ranks second all-time in all-purpose yardage, third all-time in TD receptions and fifth in receiving yards. The New Orleans, La. native also recorded seven career 100-yard receiving games – second-most by any Rebel.
Now with his college days behind him, Wallace is focusing on Saturday's upcoming NFL Draft.
"There have been a lot of workouts," he said. "Actually, my final workout was with Cleveland earlier this week. I've had a lot of interest from different teams."
There is no shortage of talented wideouts in this year's crop of draft-eligible prospects, but Wallace is receiving no lack of interest from potential pro franchises.
With as many as six teams paying attention, Wallace said he isn't concerned with where he might land.
"Last week, I was talking with Seattle (Seahawks). They told me I've done enough to hear my name selected on the first day," said Wallace. "The (Chicago) Bears are really high on me. They're talking about taking me with their first pick in the 40's.
"There are so many different names. Cleveland (Browns), Dallas (Cowboys), Seattle, Tennessee (Titans), Chicago and Tampa Bay (Buccaneers) are real high on me. Dallas said I was at the top of their board, but their pick isn't until 51. They think I might be gone."
Entering his final year in Oxford, Wallace was predicted by many to be a mid-to-late round draft choice.
But after equaling the Rebel record for 100-yard receiving games with four and piling up the fifth-most receiving yards in school history (784), his stock couldn't be any higher.
Wallace led the SEC and ranked third in the NCAA (among top 100 WRs) in yards per catch (20.1). He also led Ole Miss and was sixth in the SEC in receiving yards per game (60.3).
"Every team has talked about my upside," Wallace said. "They've told me I'm just now scratching the surface of my potential. I've improved in a lot of areas and am doing everything I can to get better. I'm just ready to get started."
Wallace said in every individual workout with a prospective team, he's been drilled in his route-running and cutting – two areas he said needed improvement.
"In every workout, I've had to run routes, cut and plant with the ball. They all like my speed, but cutting is something teams feel I need to work on," said Wallace. "I've really tried to focus on that. I've actually gotten a lot better. I killed that with Cleveland. They like me a lot."
Speed, which has never been an issue with Wallace, is also playing into his favor.
Before the NFL Combine in February, Wallace was preparing for what he'd hoped would be a sub-4.2 40-yard dash.
While he wasn't able to achieve the high mark, running the second-fastest time among wide receivers with a 4.33 sprint, Wallace still believes he can run in the 4.2 range.
"I've done it before. I could have run it at the combine, but my leg was cramping," he joked. "We had to wait four hours to run again, so I was really stopped short."
Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt doesn't doubt Wallace's capabilities, saying the 6-foot, 180 pounder proved on the field how fast he indeed is.
"He outran every corner every Saturday and did the same at the Senior Bowl in Mobile. Not many have his speed," Nutt said.
Now Wallace hopes his speed helps carry him into a prosperous career as a professional player.
"I'm ready for the process to be over, honestly. But I'm not worried. It'll play out the way it's supposed to play out," he said. "Basically, I'm hearing anywhere between the first or third round. Wherever I land, I'm excited about the opportunity. It's a blessing."
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