By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
SPRINGFIELD — It’s National Signing Day and Keion Wallace, who attracted national football recruiting attention during the last few years, now leans toward making a decision to stay local.
The Effingham County wide receiver visited Georgia Southern and left impressed with Eagles coach Clay Helton.
“As long as I get somewhere to play, that would be a blessing,” Wallace said. “Most people don’t get offers. Just to go D I, that’s amazing.”
ECHS will hold a signing party today at 8 a.m. for Wallace, defensive lineman Keysean McCarr (leaning toward Savannah State) and wide receiver/defensive back Timmy Brown (leaning toward Army).
Wallace, a 6-3, 200-pounder, began his senior season with 11 Division I offers, including Texas A&M, Mississippi, Georgia Tech, Louisville and West Virginia.
Wallace missed his junior season after suffering a torn labrum while playing pick-up basketball in the offseason. He was an all-region performer this season after catching 27 passes for 476 yards and nine touchdowns. He entered his senior year with a 3.8 grade-point average.
But offers from big-time schools suddenly were gone.
“Transfer portal,” Wallace reasoned.
ECHS coach John Ford didn’t want to specifically talk about Wallace’s situation but sees trends in the college game that adversely affects high school athletes.
“Between the (transfer) portal and the extra COVID year (an extra year of eligibility given to college players because of shortened 2020 and 2021 seasons), colleges have bloated rosters and there’s less room for high school seniors,” Ford said. “Coaches are being pushed to win right away, so they’re looking for guys (in the portal) who can come in and play right away.
“I do think it will settle down and we’ll get back to normal, but right now it’s almost like (college) coaches are driving down a road and no one told them the speed limit.”
According to Internet site 24/7, Arizona, Tennessee and Texas have already filled their rosters with 14 players apiece from the transfer portal.
Although directly affected, Wallace, a three-star recruit by Rivals, doesn’t seem to be fazed about playing in front of 20,000 fans at Georgia Southern’s Paulson Stadium instead of the 100,000-plus at Texas A&M’s Kyle Field.
Wallace says he could have a great opportunity playing in Helton’s high-powered passing offense.
“Everyone sees me as a tight end, but (Helton) sees me as an X (receiver lined up wide on the opposite side of the tight end), so I’m excited,” Wallace said.
And if Helton doesn’t stay at Georgia Southern for your four years?
“That’s what the portal’s about,” Wallace said, smiling.