Fans get their first look at QB Wallace

Jeff Stell

ISU football fans have yet to see what Seneca Wallace can do in a football game, but if it’s anything close to what his teammates have seen in practice, then expect the unexpected.

Wallace, a junior college transfer from Sacramento Community College, will start at quarterback Saturday night when the Cyclones start the season hosting Northern Iowa. It’ll be his debut appearance on center stage and the signal caller admits there will be some pressure.

“There’s a lot of things going through my mind,” Wallace said. “I just want to go out and get a game under my belt. Going out and seeing the big crowd will give me some butterflies.”

Joining Wallace in the offensive backfield will be returning starter Ennis Haywood at tailback. While Haywood led the Big 12 Conference in rushing last season, he admits he won’t be the fastest runner on the field Saturday, as Wallace is a threat to tuck it in and take off on any play.

“I think the way Seneca runs the ball, his speed jumps out at you,” Haywood explained. “He’s faster than me. He’s got amazing speed; sometimes I can’t keep up with him on the option.”

The Panthers also have a quarterback that can run in redshirt freshman Tom Petrie. Like the Panthers, the Cyclone defense needs to prepare for that extra element, an area where Wallace is a big help in practice.

“Petrie is a real quick kid, and we’re going to have our hands full,” ISU defensive end Kevin DeRonde said. “When you go against Seneca though, that can prepare you for anything. The UNI quarterback is quick, but we see that with Seneca everyday.”

Wallace does possess the speed and moves that typical multi-dimensional quarterbacks have, but breaks free from the mold with his arm. Wallace racked up 3,675 yards and 22 touchdowns in junior college.

It’s been popular talk that Wallace sports a cannon arm, but ISU wide receiver Craig Campbell said Wallace can also back it up with accuracy and consistency.

“He [Wallace] surprises with the throws he makes.” Campbell said. “He gets them in there where you think it can’t be put. He has great accuracy.”

Wallace came to Iowa State in January and has been spending the last eight months getting a grasp on the offensive system. One factor working in Wallace’s favor is that the Cyclone offense doesn’t differ much from the one ran in junior college.

“I’m probably about a nine or ten [on a scale from one to 10] as in knowing the offense,” Wallace said. “A lot of the offense we run here is the same thing we ran at my junior college, just some terminology differences.”

Filling the shoes of two-year starter Sage Rosenfels could be viewed as a tough task, but Wallace has been in this position before. Wallace stepped in as a freshman to lead the offense at Sacramento Community College and went on to earn All-American honors.

“It’s pretty much the same thing,” Wallace said. “The only difference is playing in front of a bigger crowd. Stepping into the offense is the same thing, but it’s a bigger role at a Division 1 school.”