By Jordan Kendall, Assistant Sports Editor
Former Towson linebacker Diondre Wallace has entered the 2019 NFL Draft. Last season, Wallace helped the Tigers return to the FCS playoffs for the first time since 2013. He has been the leader of Towson’s defense since 2015 and has played in at least 10 games all four seasons. As he prepares for an opportunity at the next level, here are a few reasons why he deserves a shot.
Wallace improved his number of tackles each of his first three seasons, going from 45 his freshman season to 90 two years later. Last season, he finished with 89 tackles including a career best 4.5 tackles for loss.
Against Power Five opponents South Florida and Wake Forest, he set and beat his career best tackles with 14 and 16 tackles respectively. To set your career best against FBS Power Five schools is a great statement of the type of player Wallace is. Playing in the FCS, you don’t get many opportunities to play the best of the best, so to take advantage of the few opportunities you have is a sign that he can play with the best.
Despite defense being the Tigers’ area of weakness, their defense finished last in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) last season and eighth in 2017, Wallace stepped up to provide the leadership and reliability needed. Wallace has the seventh most tackles in Towson history with 290, the highest total in over a decade.
Wallace gave his all to Towson, and in an interview with the Baltimore Sun, teammate Chris Tedder said “his voice makes a difference on defense, and his leadership, too, without that, we wouldn’t be who we are out there.”
In that same interview, Linebackers coach Lyndon Johnson said of Wallace that “his size is hard to find — guys that can run and still have the girth that you need at the point of attack, it’s a tough combination, especially now in this day and age when the game has changed where everybody is running the spread or hurry-up play.”
Towson has sent 14 players to the NFL in its 50-year history, impressive for a program who has competed at each level of NCAA Football. Towson may not have the prestige or history compared to programs such as Alabama or Ohio State, but it can produce talent and has done so over multiple decades.
Four former Tigers are currently on NFL rosters including New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod. Bushrod has made two Pro Bowls and won Super Bowl XLIV, leading the NFL in snaps played in 2011 with 1,177. He was a third-team All-Atlantic 10 his final two seasons at Towson and started 38 consecutive games.
Running back Terrance West dominated at Towson, rushing for a Towson record 1,294 yards and 29 touchdowns as a freshman, leading to a CAA Offensive Rookie of the Year selection. Two years later, he led Towson to the FCS National Championship with 2,509 yards and 41 touchdowns, which are Towson and FCS records. West led the Cleveland Browns in rushing in 2014 with 673 yards and four touchdowns and led the Baltimore Ravens in rushing in 2016 with 774 yards and five scores.
Wallace is a special player who can rally a team towards a common goal. He runs sideline to sideline and can track and get to the ball quickly. Last season, it seemed as if when Towson needed a stop, he was the one to get it.
Although he will likely go undrafted since he is not currently on any major draft coverage’s list of prospects, I believe he has shown the promise and potential to earn a spot in an NFL camp. Last fall, multiple NFL teams, including the New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots sent scouts to Towson. I think Wallace would be a great addition to any team, but especially the Patriots.
With Head Coach Bill Belichick’s roots in Maryland from growing up in Annapolis while his father coached at Navy and his ability to find lesser-known players and use their strengths to the team’s advantage, Wallace is the perfect type of player for New England. He is unselfish and is all about the team, just what the Patriots strive for. Wallace will forever be remembered here at Towson, and hopefully will be remembered in the NFL as well.