FOOTBALL

Harrison Wallace's athleticism and upside led to Penn State commitment

Nick Alvarez
Montgomery Advertiser

The offers trickled in slowly for Harrison Wallace. 

Wallace, or "Trey" as those around the Pike Road program call him, held offers from mainly smaller, non-Division I schools halfway through his senior season. He originally committed to Duke in October. 

Then South Carolina offered. Then Virginia. Then Maryland. Then Tennessee. Two years ago, Wallace didn't play competitive football. On Dec. 7, he released a video via Twitter announcing his flip to Penn State

Pike Road wide receiver Harrison Wallace (3) snags a pass keeping Carroll Ozark defensive back J’kwon Cooper (17) from an interception.

Wallace initially transferred to Pike Road entering his junior year to play basketball. A Patriots strength coach referred him to the football field, and Pike Road head coach Patrick Browning identified a talent he thinks could play on NFL Sundays one day. 

"(Wallace) is gifted," Josh Clark, Pike Road's wide receiver coach, said. "... I don't think he knows how talented he is."

Browning and others believe that Wallace's commitment is an example of a rapidly-shifting recruiting schedule brought on by the pandemic. Wallace could've benefited from summer camps that were postponed and eventually canceled due to COVID-19.

Wallace's 40-yard dash time and vertical jump would've enticed college coaches, Browning said. When Wallace first walked onto Pike Road's field as a junior, Browning lined him behind a veteran wide receiver and told Wallace to mimic the routes he saw.

According to Browning, Wallace ran them better. He soon became the leader of the group, totaling nine touchdowns and 696 receiving yards in 12 games (11 Patriot wins). 

Wallace, a three-star prospect per 247Sports, was one of the thousands of recruits who emailed colleges highlight tapes. He didn't know which ones, if any, would reach out. 

In mid-November, Browning said Penn State head coach James Franklin inquired about Wallace. Browning told him about the Patriots' quiet leader. How it was now Wallace who now led the team in drills. And it was Wallace who added more highlights as a senior – including a one-handed catch on a screen thrown over his head, and a long catch, juke-move and touchdown against Tallassee. 

Per 247Sports composite rankings, Wallace is the lowest-rated receiver in Penn State's 2021 class. But Browning and other Patriots coaches have seen first-hand how quickly Wallace can make an impact.  

 "I think he's gonna show up there and they're gonna be like, 'Wow, we got a steal,'" Clark said.