"It was a shocker," said the 6-6, 310-pound Wallace, a Manhattan native. "They brought us in Sunday night after the last game and said, 'The team is done.' We all thought we were getting a new coach, so all of us had to mentally switch over to, 'Oh, crap, we have to think about the rest of our lives now.' That night, I had to blow off some steam and make a decision on whether I wanted to play football or not and I decided that football was something that I wanted to keep doing."
He found Temple with the help of Ed Foley, who was the Owls' tight-ends coach under Al Golden and now serves as director of operations for Steve Addazio. Foley knew Wallace through a connection to his position coach at Northeastern and had seen him play in high school. After being invited for an official visit, Wallace was sold on being an Owl.
"I loved it," Wallace said. "I came around and I was like, 'This is something I can really relate to and enjoy.' "
Since his transfer came about because Northeastern dropped football, Wallace was eligible to play for Temple immediately. Once on North Broad Street, Wallace looked to former Owls standout tackle Darius Morris as a role model.
"I always had to look at how he played and how he acted and how he pursued everything at this level, so I took his example of, 'You have to be tough, you have to keep going, you have to know your plays and you have to be ruthless but compassionate to your teammates,' " Wallace said. "I'm trying to get toward that, but I'm also trying to grow as a player and as a friend to all these guys."
Wallace cracked the Owls' starting lineup in the final two games of the 2010 season and started every game at right tackle last season. He is the only returning starter from last season, and is expected to be a leader on the line.
"It's tremendous," Wallace said of his role. "It's great that the coaches believe in me and it's also a huge challenge."
Among the starting five are returnees Jaimen Newman, a converted defensive tackle, and Sean Boyle, who spent the previous two seasons sidelined with various injuries.
"We're starting to really gel," Wallace said. "In practice, we're moving, we're doing stuff and we had a couple guys who subbed in, since we have so many guys subbing in and out that guys are really learning on a fast level. We're going to be very dynamic."
Contact Brian Dzenis at email@example.com.