Wide Receiver Rico Wallace Shenandoah University

Posted: April 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

Rico Wallace has NFL size and length and absolutely posesses NFL size and ability despite only playing at the Division III level.

Wide receiver Rico Wallace doesn’t come from a big time school or football program. He doesn’t even come from a universitymany are familiar with or have heard of for that matter. Shenandoah University is a small school tucked away between the mountains of Virginia, in a quiet and reserved setting. One of the last places you would expect a potential NFL prospect to emerge out of, Rico Wallace has worked and earned his way into being considered a draftable prospect by many teams who will be selecting their next young batch of players to lead their respective teams into the future only one week from now. Rico is just hoping for the opportunity to be drafted but even if that does not come to fruition he knows he has the heart and determination to make it as an undrafted free agent. His attitude and perseverance is something that shines through the moment you begin speaking with this young man. Rico is a person who was brought up on hard work and always putting your best foot forward in everything you do. He’s received a lot of strength and personable qualities from his mother who he claims is the “strongest person he knows”. However, NFL teams are questioning the level of competition Rico played at and it has proved to be difficult to show that he belongs and deserves to be drafted.

Despite his immense potential and physical skill-set, Rico did not earn a combine invite, nor the opportunity to play in one of the many all-star game circuits that happen following the collegiate season. Instead Rico’s first opportunity came when he was given the chance to attend and participate in the BSN Showcase in Akron, Ohio. Here Rico shined in individual one-on-one drills where many talent evaluators on hand said he looked smooth and fluid running his routes, noting how seamlessly he acclimated himself to the increase in the level of competition. It was after Rico’s performance in the BSN Showcase that he started to gain some attention outside of the very few die-hard draft fans and scouts who were aware of his name before. Nonetheless it was from this point on that Rico has begun to create some headway for himself, as numerous teams have shown interest in him since then. Measuring in at 6-3 210 lbs, Rico possesses very good size and length to play the position in the NFL. His production at Shenandoah improved from year to year, as Rico transitioned from the position of quarterback in high school to wide receiver, where he has been re-writing the record books at Shenandoah University. This past season Rico led the USA Southern Athletic Conference in nearly every major statistical category as he dominated the conference in everything from receptions and touchdowns to yards per game and yards per reception.

Despite this dominate performance Rico has earned little fan fare to this point. Considering that since 1991, only 15 players have been drafted from the Division III ranks, you begin to understand what he is up against. From recent pro prospects like wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Cecil Shorts, who came from Division III Mount Union, to more established NFL players like linebacker London Fletcher and running back Fred Jackson. These particular players have proved that nothing is impossible and it doesn’t matter where you came from as long as you can play, and in the end that’s all that matters. In fact when you do a simple comparison between Pierre Garcon’s senior season and Rico Wallace’s, you find that Mr. Wallace’s numbers exceed that of his fellow Division III wide receiver counterpart. Garcon had 67 receptions for 955 yards and 14 tds’, while Wallace accounted for 67 receptions, 1241 yards and 14 td’s. Their numbers are eerily similar, however Garcon played for what many consider to be a Division III powerhouse in Mount Union, while Shenandoah has not quite yet found the same type of success. Nonetheless, for simple comparison sake it is extremely evident that Rico Wallace did in fact dominate the completion at the Division III level, which is what you like to see from a player emerging from the lower ranks. In fact, this past season Mr. Wallace had a game for the ages in which he accounted for 5 td’s! I personally have little doubt that Rico Wallace has what it takes to make it in the NFL as I have seen a player that consistently shows up on tape and exudes rare skills for a Division III prospect. Sure, he has a learning curve and things to improve upon, such as his strength and route running ability but how many wide receivers coming out of college don’t have something to improve upon? Rico has an unbelievable amount of upside and a very high ceiling and scouts, fans and general managers are finally beginning to see that when they break down the film of this talented receiver. Rico was nice enough to sit down with us the other day and share his journey to this point, as well as catch us up to speed on some of the things we may have missed while enjoying other more highly sought after prospects.

Brandon Holstein: Tell me about your childhood or upbringing and what initially drew you to the game of football?

Rico Wallace: Well, basically I grew up with five brothers and my mom and I guess the thing that drew me most to the game was the competitiveness about it. I also appreciate the team camaraderie that is associated with the game.

Brandon Holstein: Tell me what it was like growing up with five older brothers, I understand that you are the youngest, is that correct?

Rico Wallace: Yeah, you know it was a fun experience. The older ones were able to set a good example for me and the younger ones who were closer to my age were more relatable. The older ones were also a little more wiser and had more experience and things so it was just really fun to learn and do things with them all growing up.

Brandon Holstein: I understand that your mother is a very important person in your life, tell me some of the qualities you have taken from her and some of the things she has taught you along the way?

Rico Wallace: Yeah definitely, my mother is one of the strongest people I know. I think the thing I get from her most is her positive attitude and the way she handles any tough situation thrown her way.

Brandon Holstein: What do you think your greatest strength as a wide receiver is and what do you pride yourself the most on regarding your overall game?

Rico Wallace: I would say learning quickly and using my natural instincts to my advantage as far as just getting myself into the best position possible to make a play. To me that’s the hardest thing about being a receiver and it’s something I take great pride in and think I do exceptionally well.

Brandon Holstein: What do you perceive is your biggest weakness and what have you been doing to improve upon that?

Rico Wallace: As far as the next level is concerned I think I need to work a little more on my speed. I’ve been doing a lot of speed and resistance training to get faster and quicker.

Brandon Holstein: It seemed to me when watching film of you that you ran what some might consider to be a limited route tree at Shenandoah. How comfortable and confident are you in your route running abilities?

Rico Wallace: Yes, we actually run more routes during practice and that kind of thing but you see a lot of that when you’re watching my highlight tape as far as the big over-the-top type plays. However, you see more of my ability to run a full NFL route tree when you watch more game film as opposed to some of the film that’s out there of me on the internet.

Brandon Holstein: What’s been the biggest challenge for you coming from a small Division III school like Shenandoah and why do you believe you can make the leap in competition to the NFL?

Rico Wallace: That’s one of the things I’m most proud of, as far as my ability to play up to the level of competition I am competing against. I’m just a naturally competitive person so I’m sure that once I get to the next level I am confident I can step my game up and compete at that elite level.

Brandon Holstein: Tell me about how you ended up at Shenandoah and if you were heavily recruited out of high school?

Rico Wallace: I had a couple different division one schools that showed interest in me but never really followed up with me regarding the recruitment process. I ended up going on different visits but Shenandoah seemed like the best fit for me.

Brandon Holstein: If you don’t mind me asking or sharing with us which schools had expressed interest in you coming out of high school?

Rico Wallace: The first school that came and talked to me was Navy in Annapolis; the coach from Maryland also came and talked to me and also some schools like Villanova, Sacred Hart and Delaware State from the Division IAA level also showed some interest.

Brandon Holstein: You recently participated in the James Madison Pro-Day on March 16th. How do you think you did and what do you feel you could have done better?

Rico Wallace: I think I did Okay overall, I had another combine type of thing in Akron, Ohio earlier in the year and I think a lot of the numbers kind of matched up with how I did there. As far as what I could have improved upon, I think I could have done a little bit better with my short shuttle time.

Brandon Holstein: What were some of your results or times at the James Madison Pro-Day in terms of the forty yard dash and vertical jump?

Rico Wallace: The forty, I heard a couple scouts had me at a 4.53. And in my vertical I tested out at 37.5 inches.

Brandon Holstein: What would you say motivates or drives you the most?

Rico Wallace: I would have to say my love for the game. You know I just want to play as long as I can and even when I’m done I want to get into coaching, so just being around football makes me happy and it’s what I want to continue to do.

Brandon Holstein: You participated in the BSN Showcase in Akron Ohio, tell me what that experience was like and how well you think you did at that event?

Rico Wallace: First day you know we just went through measurables and that sort of thing, getting our height and weight. The next day we did more of the combine stuff and did some 7 on 7 type drills before participating in the actual game on the last day. It was my first time actually getting out there and doing the combine type stuff officially and I believe they timed me at a 4.55 forty, with a 36 inch vertical and 9-10 ft. broad jump.

Brandon Holstein: What teams would you say have shown the most interest in you to this point; anyone in particular knocking on your door repeatedly during this process?

Rico Wallace: I would say the Carolina Panthers are one team that has shown a good amount of interest. I just got a couple other phone calls recently from the Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars as well.

Brandon Holstein: Well that would be quite the trip to play with Cam Newton, what do you think that would be like?

Rico Wallace: Oh man, you know that would be crazy! To have the opportunity to play alongside someone I admire and who has started off their professional career the right way, I think it would be a trip to sort of grow up together basically in that system.

Brandon Holstein: One of the things I notice when watching film of yours is the effort you give as a blocker; is that something you take pride in as a receiver and why is that?

Rico Wallace: Absolutely, you know half of a receiver’s game is blocking unless you’re in a pass heavy offense. I believe that you should never let your man make the tackle and I definitely take pride in doing that because if my man makes the tackle than I feel like I’m letting the whole offense down.

Brandon Holstein: One of the things that gets’ asked of young players is their ability to play Special Teams. What kind of ability do you think you have in this area and how comfortable are you contributing in that capacity to begin your career?

Rico Wallace: You know when it comes to blocking I feel the same way, whenever the ball is in the air or whatever I like to think no matter which way I get on the field I’m always going to give my best effort.

Brandon Holstein: What round(s) have you been hearing you might be selected in? How high have you heard your name going and how far do you think you could drop?

Rico Wallace: The highest that I’ve heard is the 5th round and then, you know, the lowest is an undrafted free agent.

Brandon Holstein: If it turned out you did become an undrafted free agent how would you handle that and what would be you do from there?

Rico Wallace: To me it’s pretty much all the same whether you get drafted or not, it’s what you do once you get your chance and either way I’m just going to make sure I come there prepared and do my best.

Brandon Holstein: Looking back on your career at Shenandoah what are you most proud of?

Rico Wallace: I guess you know going through my four years it would be setting a good example for the younger players and kind of being that positive role model for them. I would say that’s definitely one of the things I take most pride in.

Brandon Holstein: I’ve been in contact with your agent Ryan Earls over at Cover 3 Reps, tell me why you chose to go with him and what that experience has been like to this point?

Rico Wallace: Yeah, I went with them because I like Ryan’s personality. He’s very outgoing and he’s definitely somebody that is very ambitious about what he’s passionate about, which is being an agent and understanding how the whole process works. He’s been very helpful and instrumental in teaching me some of the things that I wasn’t as aware about, so he has been a big help and great agent. Just getting to know him you can tell he has a very family like mentality and is very knowledgeable when it comes to explaining to me how things work so you can tell he is well versed an educated.

Brandon Holstein: The next set of questions are kind of rapid fire questions just to get a better feel for your personality away from the football field so here we go, the first one is what would be your last meal if you had to choose?

Rico Wallace: A last meal? (Laughs) Oh that’s tough! I would say…wow (laughs again)

Brandon Holstein: Are you a barbeque guy or what’s your preference (laughing)?

Rico Wallace: You know I don’t know I like a lot of things but I would have to say just steak you know?

Brandon Holstein: Okay, okay so steak? Any other side condiments at all in there?

Rico Wallace: Oh no, I mean if the steaks seasoned well I’ll eat just that as is (laughs).

Brandon Holstein: Alright, alright (laughing) the next one is your favorite movie of all time?

Rico Wallace: Toy Story.

Brandon Holstein: And why is that?

Rico Wallace: You know I like the different emotions that it goes through. I like, you know the soundtrack and the music and all that so…when it came out it was just one of a kind.

Brandon Holstein: I know where you’re coming from, that was a favorite of mine growing up as well so good choice there. What’s your favorite kind of music or favorite song of all time?

Rico Wallace: I listen to rap and R&B but I also listen to a couple other different genres and I guess if I was to choose a favorite song I would say Michael Jackson’s, “Dirty Diana”.

Brandon Holstein: Nice, I can dig that…what would you say you are most excited about in the NFL?

Rico Wallace:  I think it’s just exciting to focus specifically on football. It will be nice not having to worry about classes and such and just going to work and focuses on my craft. I think it will be very exciting to learn the game a lot more, especially with professional coaches with professional trainers. I feel like I have a high ceiling, so I feel like I can get a lot better yet with proper coaching and things like that.

Brandon Holstein: Definitely, who was your favorite team growing up?

Rico Wallace: Oh, I mean I was a big Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan growing up.

Brandon Holstein: Any particular reason why?

Rico Wallace: I always liked their defense. Even though I play offense I love a good defense. When I was watching them growing up they had players like John Lynch, Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber on the defense and that group was just always making plays on that side of the ball.

Brandon Holstein: Just a side question here but who do you emulate your game after and what one player in the NFL do you feel is your best comparison?

Rico Wallace: I would say Larry Fitzgerald. He’s a guy that I’ve watched a lot and I like how he trains and stuff. He’s somebody I would definitely like to play like and model my game after.

Brandon Holstein: Last question for you here Rico. What are your plans for draft day and what’s it going to be like for you?

Rico Wallace: I just plan on spending my day at home in Maryland with my family. Me and my girlfriend are going to go home and just try and spend time with them and hopefully I hear my name called and get that phone call so we can all celebrate together.

Brandon Holstein: Well we wish you the best of luck Rico and hope you get that phone call you’re hoping for as well. We want to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with us here at NFL Draft Monsters and we can’t wait to follow your path to the NFL and professional career.

Rico Wallace: Alright, yeah thanks!

As you can tell by the conversation above, Rico Wallace is an extremely humble and appreciative guy. He’s soft spoken, yet he’s a confident player and person who believes in himself and the abilities he has as a wide receiver. I personally love players who are humble and not full of themselves and I could tell instantaneously that Rico is not one to boast or brag about how skilled he is. Instead, Rico is the type of player who lets his play on the field do the talking and he comes across as a team player who is willing to do whatever he can to help his team out. This is the type of player you can feel confident about taking in the middle to late rounds to develop and mature as an all around receiver. Some of the qualities I appreciate most about Rico’s game are his efforts as a blocker, his catching radius, his ability to track the deep ball and adjust to off target passes, body control and natural hands. To me, Rico is exceptional in every one of these areas and absolutely deserves to be drafted. I have included some highlight videos of Rico below and encourage you to check them out and see just why Rico Wallace has the potential to make the lead from Division III to the pro ranks. Rico Wallace has a lot going for him and we at NFL Draft Monsters personally cannot wait to hear his name called on draft weekend and see what team might be getting one of the better steals in this entire draft.

Thanks for reading my interview and spotlight piece on Shenandoah wide receiver Rico Wallace.-

– Brandon

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40v0ijv3GDQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWmlJssUClA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1lJzwh-QGg

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