Meet ‘The Beast'

Considering all Memphis Wooddale linebacker Marlon Walls offers on and off the football field, it's not surprising he has offers from all the schools of the SEC, or that he may top all the prospects the Volunteer State has to offer.

Whether the personable young man — who's known as "The Beast" for his aggressive style and physical play — is the best will not be answered until the 2007 season unfolds, but he is probably the most popular prospect in Tennessee.

Rated the nation's No. 11 weak-side linebacker prospect by, he would rank much higher if there was a category for rush linebackers. At 6-foot-4, 215 pounds he has the frame to carry considerable more weight without compromising his 4.55 speed. As a junior he played mostly defensive end and recorded 58 tackles with 13 sacks. In limited duty on offense he caught 15 passes and five touchdowns.

"Folks have been talking to me about playing both outside linebacker and defensive end," Walls told IT on Tuesday. "If they're using another scheme they might throw me down there at defensive end."

A versatile athlete who also played basketball and runs track for the Cardinals.

"I run the open 400 the 4x400 and the 4x200," he said. "I don't know about the relays as far as he best I ever ran in the open 400 was 49.7. I didn't play basketball last year, but I played the year before and I'm going to play this year."

The focus this summer for Marlon Walls is on getting stronger, increasing his stamina and the early stages of recruiting.

"Basically I've been working out,," he said when asked about his summer. "More working on getting my legs stronger and getting my tank ready for the season. I'm benching 285 (pounds) and the last time I maxed on the squat was last summer when I had 455. I just left the University of Alabama passing camp."

Alabama has offered Walls but isn't currently on his favorites list which includes: Auburn, Florida, Memphis, Minnesota, Mississippi State and Tennessee.

Born and raised in Memphis, Walls indicates he's leaning toward going away to college where he plans to study business management.

"I'm trying to get away from home," he said. "I want to be close enough for my family to come see me."

That would seem to favor the Mississippi schools and Tennessee, but Walls isn't ready to name a leader at this point. However he spoke mostly positively about UT.

"I've always loved the Tennessee Vols since I was young," he enthusiastically stated. "It's always been my dream college anyway. Trooper (Taylor) is recruiting me. I talk to Phillip Fulmer a lot. Coach Trooper is cool. We've got a good relationship going. We're really cool but most of the time we're talking business. He's not guaranteeing me a starting position. He's saying I can come down there and work for it. That's the way I like it anyway, being able to work for it. So yeah, we're cool."

For a guy called The Beast, Walls is very laid back off the gridiron. He likes to listen to the musical narrative album "Lawane" by the African hip hop group Djoloff. And he spends most his spare time in low-profile pursuits with friends and teammates.

"I like to kick it with my friends and teammates," he said. "I keep away from clubs and things like that. Most of the time I just hang with my teammates going to the movies; just chill."

Competition seems to bring out the best and The Beast in Walls. He helped lead Wooddale to a 10-3 record last season and the 5A quarterfinals before the Cardinals fell to Memphis White Station. In a critical contest against Collierville he demonstrated his ability to rise to the occasion.

"We were playing against Collierville and the score was 17-14 our way and they were down on the goal line," he recalled. "The quarterback ran the quarterback sneak to the other side from me, and I ended up catching him from behind before he fell in the end zone, and I knocked the ball out of his hands."

Plays like that put Walls' football future entirely in his hands.

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