Commentary

Wallace finally realizes QB dreams

Updated: September 26, 2008, 1:44 PM ET
By Paul Muyskens | ESPNRISE.com

Quarterbacking a team that won just two games his senior year of high school and being not even 6 feet tall is not the normal route to the NFL.

[+] EnlargeSeneca Wallace
Brian Bahr/Getty ImagesWallace was named the 2001 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.

But Seneca Wallace never wrote himself off as a potential professional athlete, and to the surprise of everyone but himself, he now is in his sixth year with the Seattle Seahawks.

After the likes of Larry Allen, Dallas Clark and Michael Strahan, we continue our series about unknown preps who became big-time pros with Wallace's story. He's someone those of you who aren't currently being recruited might find inspirational. A player who was unknown, unlucky, unrecruited and unappreciated in high school.

Did Wallace give up after his mom was diagnosed with cancer and no colleges wanted him to play quarterback? Nope. Facing adversity and naysayers, he made the best of difficult situations while waiting for his opportunity to shine as he thought he could.

"It's been pretty difficult," Wallace told the Oakland Tribune about his journey. "But if you just stay positive and stay on the path where you know where you want to be at the end of the day, and if that's playing quarterback like mine was, I just wanted to keep working hard and continue on that path."

Growing up in Sacramento, Calif., as the youngest of seven, Wallace shone at Cordova High School on the football field and the basketball court, where he earned multiple honors. Not many colleges went to see the Lancers play Wallace's senior season as he gave strong performances on both sides of the football for a team that won just two games and accordingly didn't get much of the publicity that comes, fairly or unfairly, with winning.

Despite wanting to play quarterback, Wallace was offered only a scholarship by Oregon State to play defense. Even that was short-lived, as he found out he was just shy of clearing the NCAA academic requirements and had his scholarship taken away. To make matters worse, his mom was diagnosed with cancer shortly thereafter. For most people, that could have been the end of their dreams.

Not for Wallace.

Staying close to home, Wallace enrolled at Sacramento City College and worked at Sacramento International Airport stocking magazines while he waited for his opportunity to show what he could do at the quarterback position.

His chance came four weeks into the season when the starting quarterback went down with an injury, giving Wallace an opportunity at the position after he had played wide receiver the first four weeks.

Wallace ended that season as the top-rated junior college quarterback in the state, and the following season, he continued to shine, earning juco All-American and All-Conference honors as he passed for 3,675 yards and 22 touchdowns while running for 590 yards and nine scores.

In a far different situation from his high school playing days, multiple colleges wanted Wallace as variations of the spread option offense became popular. He eventually chose Iowa State.

In his first season with the Cyclones, Wallace was named the Big 12's newcomer of the year, and the following season, he was in the running for the Heisman Trophy as he shattered multiple school records.

One of Wallace's most famous plays at Iowa State was called simply "The Run" and can be found all over the Internet. He ran all over the field and dropped back behind the 30-yard line before he wove his way through defenders and found the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown.

After his senior season at Iowa State, multiple NFL teams wanted to draft Wallace as a wide receiver or at other positions other than quarterback. Once again, Wallace let it be known that he wanted to play quarterback. He was selected by the Seahawks in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL draft.

After initially making the roster as the third quarterback, Wallace continued to work hard and saw some playing time on defense and as a wide receiver in 2004.

Finally, in 2005, he got the chance to play quarterback and threw his first touchdown pass. It also was a season that saw the Seahawks reach the Super Bowl with Wallace on the field as a wide receiver.

If you're a player on a bad team and being told you're not the prototypical recruit for the position you want to play, all the while dealing with family tragedy and turmoil -- remember, where there's a will, there's a way. Call it the Seneca Wallace way.

Paul Muyskens covers high school sports for ESPNRISE.com.