This week's edition of Getting to Know Your Fellow Panthers will focus on one of my favorite players on the team, and an overall great guy, both on the field and off, Defensive End Al Wallace.-- M.C.
Alfonso Dwight Wallace is a native of Delray Beach, Florida where he grew up and went to school. While he was in High School he played both Football and Basketball. He was a Wide Receiver in High School registering 31 catches for 571 yards and 5 touchdowns in his senior year at Spanish River High School in Delray Beach.
When he graduated from High School, he was recruited by Maryland to play Wide Receiver. He was red shirted for his freshman year but came back ready to play for the rest of his college career. He was moved to Defensive End in his sophomore year because his coaches felt that his athletic ability and strength would be better served on the defensive side of the ball rather than the offensive. That move paid off for him, as he went on to finish his college career with 108 tackles and 12 sacks. And, like some other DE on the Panthers, he also lined up as a TE on some Goal Line situations.
As draft day rolled around, Al sat home and watched while 240 players were taken and he was continually passed-over. He was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars where he attended training camp and was assigned to the Practice Squad for the first 13 games of the season. On December 2nd, Al was signed to the Philadelphia Eagles active roster, and he played in his first NFL game on December 21st, where he contributed 3 special teams tackles and even lined up at DE for a few plays.
As the 1998 season rolled around, things were looking up for Al. He played in 15 games, mostly on passing downs, and finished the season with 19 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 2 passes defended, 14 special teams tackles, and a whopping 6 sacks which was good enough for second on the team.
In 1999, Al recorded 3 sacks in three pre-season games before suffering a dislocated ankle which would sideline him for the rest of that season and hurt his chances of playing in 2000. He was waived by the Eagles after training camp and was picked up by the Bears in December and was inactive for the last game of the season.
In 2001, Al decided to take some time off from football and pursue his true passion in life, helping children. He went home to Florida and took the position of Assistant Principal at Palm Beach Lakes High School. He draws on his experiences in education to connect with children of all ages and is a frequent speaker at area schools. He very much wants to return to High School education when his playing days are over and aspires to be Superintendent of the Palm Beach School District.
In 2002, Al decided to return to football and was signed by the Miami Dolphins. He was quickly traded to the Panthers along with a 2003 4th round draft pick for Defensive End Jay Williams. As a Panther, Wallace played in all 16 games with 4 starts. He recorded a career high 35 tackles, 3 sacks, 21 Quarterback hurries, 1 forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries. He even returned one of those fumbles for his first career NFL Touchdown.
In 2003, he again played in all 16 games for the Panthers with 2 starts at Defensive End. Wallace tied for third on the team with 5 sacks. Pretty good for someone who had to compete with a Defensive line with the likes of Mike Rucker, Julius Peppers, Kris Jenkins, and Brentson Buckner. He also recorded 38 tackles, 9 quarterback hurries, 2 passes defended and 2 Interceptions, the most for a Defensive Lineman in Panther's history. Wallace was instrumental both in the regular season and the postseason, and filled in excellently when Rucker missed two games because of a knee injury.
Al continued to show that he is a force to be reckoned with in 2004 where he played in all 16 games again; recording 30 tackles, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery.
Al is not only a great player on the field, he is also the type of player that we want our youth to look up to. He exemplifies what a sports player should be like. He's not playing for the money or the fame, he's playing because it's something that he loves and he has something to look forward to when he's done.
Carioto: Get to Know Al Wallace
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