By: Jordan Kendall, Senior Staff Writer
Former Towson University linebacker Diondre Wallace was drafted in the United States Football League (USFL) He was drafted in the 29th round by the New Orleans Breakers.
“It was low-key a blessing because it’s been three years since I’ve gotten on a football field,” Wallace said. “I didn’t want to give up after my pro day in 2019, I knew I still had a lot of football left. …It was a huge weight off my shoulder because if this didn’t happen I was going to hang them up.”
Head coach Rob Ambrose was also glad to hear the news.
“I don’t think my smile could’ve got a lot bigger,” Ambrose said. “I had a good idea a Towson guy might get drafted, I didn’t think it was him. It was quite a surprise and a pleasant one.”
The USFL is returning this year after disbanding in 1986. The first rendition of the league featured notable players such as quarterback Steve Young and defensive end Reggie White among others who had success in the NFL after leaving the USFL.
The USFL draft took place over 35 rounds with each round designated for a specific position. Outside linebackers were selected in rounds 29-31, and Wallace was the fourth pick in the 29th round by New Orleans.
“There’s a lot of former NFL players, lot of players who played in the FBS, SEC, Pac 12, a lot of those guys are playing in this league to resurrect their careers,” Wallace said. “It’ll give me an opportunity to show I can play with the best, show I can play with anyone. …This is a way to show I can still play football.”
Wallace played at Towson from 2015 to 2018. In his senior season, he was named an All-CAA Third Team selection with 89 tackles and two forced fumbles. He finished his career with 290 tackles, the seventh-most in program history.
One of Wallace’s former teammates, linebacker Monty Fenner said he was excited for Wallace and believed he deserved this opportunity.
“Diondre was your rowdy leader, definitely you’re going to hear him,” Fenner said. “He’s definitely a hard worker, he’s tough, very physical, doesn’t shy away from contact. …He plays with a lot of heart.”
Wallace spent last year in the Indoor Football League (IFL) with the Green Bay Blizzard. He played in 10 games and recorded 65 tackles including 5.5 tackles for loss.
“It was something I had to do, the league I was trying to use as a stepping stone to get here,” Wallace said. “… I needed to make sure my body was used to playing and contact… I needed a league that could give me a chance I could show I could still play.”
Wallace said the Breakers will run the same defense he ran at Towson, the 4-2 base. He credited former Tigers defensive coordinator Lyndon Johnson, now the special teams coordinator with helping him understand the system.
Wallace joins several of his former teammates in the professional ranks. Last year quarterback Tom Flacco, defensive end Tibo Debaillie, and linebacker Malik Tyne were all on Canadian Football League (CFL) rosters. Linebacker Robert Heyward spent last season with the Marburg Mercenaries in the German Football League.
Fenner attributed this to the competition Towson faces in the CAA. In 2018, Wallace’s senior season, the conference sent a record six teams including the Tigers to the FCS playoffs.
“Playing in the CAA, that league is like the SEC of college football,” Fenner said. “You’re playing the top teams in the nation, every year they have at least five or six teams nationally ranked. …Just being in that conference alone speaks for itself, if you’re that kind of guy scouts will find you.”
Under Ambrose, Towson has sent several players to the professional ranks. He said they shine a light on the university and is glad to have players such as Wallace to represent TU.
“The more players we have at the next level it brings respect and notoriety to the university,” Ambrose said. “Diondre’s found a way to make all our diplomas worth a little more money.”
Wallace said he still talks with several of his former teammates and the time spent with them were some of his favorite memories as a Tiger.
“Some of my best memories were with my teammates, we had a nice group of guys,” Wallace said. “We fought, we were gritty, we loved one another. I still keep up with some of those guys, that was some of the best times. We did everything together. You miss those times when you get older.”