Missouri lineman nixes Alabama for Arkansas

By: Richard Davenport
Published: Sunday, January 5, 2014
Highly recruited offensive lineman Brian Wallace Jr. (right) committed to Arkansas on Saturday.
Highly recruited offensive lineman Brian Wallace Jr. (right) committed to Arkansas on Saturday.

Arkansas beat out Alabama on Saturday for highly recruited offensive lineman Brian Wallace Jr. of St. Louis Christian Brothers College High.

Wallace, 6-6, 304 pounds, 5.2 seconds in the 40-yard dash, made his announcement Saturday during a live national broadcast of the U.S. Army All-American Game in San Antonio. He had more than 20 scholarship offers, but he narrowed his list to Arkansas and Alabama after taking official visits to both of those schools as well as Missouri and Iowa.

Wallace said his relationship with Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema and offensive line coach Sam Pittman helped the Hogs secure his oral commitment, which is nonbinding.

“Coach Pittman, I’m real cool with him,” Wallace said. “Coach Bielema, the same thing. Coach Pittman is real funny. We hit it off real well.”

Bielema and Pittman’s track record for developing offensive linemen and putting them into the NFL also played a role in Wallace’s decision.

“It was pretty impressive,” Wallace said. “[Pittman] sat me down in the offensive line meeting room and said he sent people to the NFL.That’s a long-term dream of mine, but I have to work in order to get to that.”

National recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network rates Wallace as a 4-star prospect and said he believes Wallace is one of the top linemen in the country.

“He’s a big-time guy,” said Lemming, who is entering his 36th year of covering national recruiting. “I thought he was a national recruit as soon as I saw him. That’s why I rated him a 4-star recruit. Great feet, he has the length with the quick hands, and he plays aggressively.”

Wallace and his parents, Brian and Leslie, accompanied him Dec. 7 on his official visit to Arkansas. He mingled with the players, including freshman offensive lineman Dan Skipper, who served as his host.

“We hit it off really well,” Wallace said.

The appeal of playing in the SEC was strong.

“From what I’ve seen over the years, it’s really competitive,” Wallace said. “You have to have a lot of heart to play.”

Wallace also spoke well of the recruiting efforts of offensive line graduate assistant Eric Mateos.

“He helped with the recruiting a lot,” Wallace said. “When I got there on the official visit, he also helped host and showed me around the facilities. He was a really cool dude all around. “

Wallace is the Razorbacks’ 18th oral commitment.

Sports, Pages 26 on 01/05/2014