By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
SPRINGFIELD – Keion Wallace and Timmy Brown grew up in the same neighborhood of Effingham County. Their first sports venues were in each others’ backyards.
“Football, basketball, soccer, kick ball, you name it, we played it,” Wallace said.
“We started school together. We were in Head Start (pre-kindergarten) together,” Brown said.
So it was only fitting they announced their new journeys together, signing to play college football last Wednesday on National Signing Day.
Wallace, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound wide receiver, will play at Georgia Southern University. Brown, a 6-2, 190-pound wide receiver, is headed to West Point to attend Army. He said he’ll start at Army’s Prep School.
“Really, it’s going to be the first time we’re apart, but I’m ready because we’ve both become great men,” Brown said.
Wallace and Brown were cornerstones of an improving Rebels football program. Both were all-region at wide receiver and defensive back for a team that registered seven wins for the first time since 2018, and defeated Glynn Academy in Brunswick for the first time since 2003 as part of a seven-game winning streak, ECHS’ best since 1995. ECHS fell just short of defeating Brunswick 30-27 for the school’s first football region championship since 1995.
During the memorable season, Wallace led the Rebels with 27 catches for 476 yards and 9 touchdowns. He also had 45 tackles, 5 tackles for losses and 5 passes defended.
Brown had 16 catches for 375 yards (a team-best 23.4 yards a catch) and 4 touchdowns. He had 33 tackles and two fumble recoveries.
Wallace returned to ECHS in 2022 after suffering a shoulder injury that required surgery a year earlier. After a stellar sophomore season, Wallace played in only one game as a junior.
Rebels coach John Ford admired the way Wallace bounced back as a senior.
“Adversity introduces a man to himself. It causes some to break and others to break records,” Ford said about Wallace.
Ford could have been speaking about Brown too. Brown played only five games as a sophomore after suffering a concussion. But as a junior and senior, Brown returned to the lineup and landed all-region honors.
Wallace said Georgia Southern had some natural advantages. He would be close to home for friends and family. He also liked the Eagles’ penchant for choosing local players.
And coach Clay Helton wasn’t bashful about throwing the football, which means more opportunities for Wallace to shine. Wallace said Helton wants him as an X receiver (lined up wide and on the opposite side of the tight end).
Brown said he knew about recent ties between Army and Georgia Southern. Current Black Knights head coach Jeff Monken was the Eagles’ head coach from 2010-2013. GSU and Army played in 2020 with the Knights winning a controversial 28-27 game.
“It would be fun to play them again,” Brown said.
So you could possibly defend Keion, just like in the backyard?
“No, no, I’d be a wide receiver,” Brown said. “He’d have to find somebody to defend me.”