And his idea of success?">
And his idea of success?">

Snapshot: J.T. Wall

J.T. Wall has some interesting thoughts running through his head as he's running through the line of scrimmage. <br><br> "I'm thinking about killing somebody," said the Steelers' rookie fullback, "burying somebody." <br><br> And his idea of success?

"When a tailback gets 100 or 200 yards," he said. "That's even better than me getting even one or two carries."

Wall is a 5-foot-11 5/8, 265-pound fullback who paved the way at Georgia for Musa Smith to gain 1,324 yards last season. The previous season, Wall was the fullback who helped Verron Haynes rush for 655 yards in the season's final four games.

Haynes was drafted in the fifth round last year by the Steelers and in spot duty rushed for 51 yards on 10 carries. Wall was drafted in the seventh round this year to rejoin Haynes, who'd convinced the Steelers to take a chance on his former backfield mate.

"He's really good," Haynes said last week at rookie camp. "He really finishes blocks well; he runs well. He also catches the ball out of the backfield well. I think he's a good fullback and I think he proved himself out there today. I think he's grasping the offense pretty well right now."

The Steelers didn't just take Haynes' word for it. They were impressed with Wall's performance at his campus workout, where he ran a 4.8 40 and bench-pressed 225 pounds 38 times. That was the high mark for all players at the combine in Indianapolis, yet Wall came away unimpressed by his feat of strength.

"My goal was 40 or 45 reps," he said. "I thought I could come in and do that but I guess I came up a little short."

Wall grew up in Milledgeville, Georgia, about 100 miles southeast of Atlanta and 70 miles south of Athens. He dreamed of playing for the University of Georgia, but after being named a three-time Independent School all-state player at Milledge Academy, Wall didn't receive a scholarship offer and spent two seasons at Southwest Baptist University in Boliver, Mo. He then walked on at Georgia and was eligible for the 2001 season.

"We knew J.T. was big and physical but, at the time, we were still thinking about Verron at fullback, so we just figured him as a backup," Georgia running backs coach Tony Pierce told the Athens Banner-Herald. "We thought he'd hit some people, but we just weren't sure. But, after awhile, especially after we moved Verron to tailback, and he had to get in there, he started smacking people. That's when we realized we had a heckuva fullback."

In his final year at Georgia, Wall carried 30 times for 149 yards and three touchdowns. His 5.0 average per carry was slightly less than Smith's 5.1 last season. Wall also caught nine passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns, but it was his blocking that drew the raves.

"It's fun running behind J.T.'s blocking," Smith said after gaining 121 yards in the regular-season finale.

"J.T. just became more steady with his blocks against the linebackers, steady with his cuts on the defensive ends, steady with his pass protection," said Pierce.

It's little wonder Wall and Haynes stayed in touch last year. Haynes was the first to call Wall after he'd been drafted by the Steelers.

"We talked probably every week, once or twice a week every week, ever since he left Georgia," Wall said. "As far as us playing together, we were a great combination. He's not as fast as some other tailbacks we had, but what helped him out was he has real good vision and a feel for the game and a feel for how I'm going to block because he's played that position before, so I think that was a real good combination. Hopefully we can do that here some day."

Wall moves into the back-up fullback spot behind Dan Kreider and Haynes will now work solely at tailback.

"That's the plan right now, provided we keep all these fullbacks around," Haynes said. "I just think it's a blessing in disguise and I look forward to seizing the opportunity."

Previous Snapshots: Alonzo Jackson | Troy Polamalu | Ike Taylor | Brian St. Pierre

Jim Wexell
Steel City

Steel City Insider Top Stories