Levi Wallace went from zero to hero real quick, publicly at least.
The senior defensive back didn’t play a down during his first two seasons at Alabama. He was a walk-on until awarded a scholarship during fall camp last year but still wasn’t a standout player as a junior.
Times have changed.
“My life?” Wallace said. “Um, I’ve got more Instagram followers. Other than that, nothing different. Same scheduled. Nothing major.”
Oh, but people’s thoughts of Wallace are indeed different.
Last week, Wallace was one of five Alabama players named a midseason All-American by The Associated Press, making first team.
“To be honest, I didn’t even know midseason All-American even existed until recently,” Wallace said. “I really wasn’t focused on it.’
Instead, Wallace was solely focused on the one thing he can control: helping his team by improving his abilities. That’s how he has gotten to where he is now. All he does is work, and that work started the spring of his freshman year right after he sat down with Nick Saban.
The two met in the Alabama head coach’s office. Wallace isn’t sure if Saban remembers, but he sure does. He was advised to learn the playbook and buff up physically.
Easier said than done, but Wallace did it.
“I think the key to Levi’s success is the diligence he sort of goes about his work with,” Saban said. “He worked hard to improve and get bigger and stronger. He’s a real technician as a player, very smart, instinctive guy.”
The potential was always there. Saban told Wallace he was a good player, but he could be more.
So when did the 6-foot, 183-pound Arizona native start gaining the attention of his teammates? As far as Alabama tight end Hale Hentges is concerned, he has always had it. Everyone outside the program just needed to catch up.
“People haven’t always been able to see how great a player he is,” Hentges said. “But now I’m glad they are seeing that.”
The most excited Wallace has been this season was after the Florida State game. Just knowing he was finally able to show off his abilities put a smile on his face. He made two tackles, broke up a pass and grabbed his first career interception.
That sparked a season that, so far, features 23 tackles, nine pass breakups, three picks and two sacks. And he’s a starter.
“Even if he is surprised, he does a good job of not really showing it,” Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans said. “He’s showed a lot of poise for him to just consistently perform at a high level each and every week.”
Some players aren’t able to keep up that mentality once they’re noticed. Evans knows that, but he also doesn’t expect that to be an issue with Wallace.
Because, regardless of any proof, even Wallace refuses to think he’s a lockdown corner.
“No, not yet,” Wallace said. “I’ve got to keep working. I have to find a way to keep honing my skills and my technique.
“Maybe one day, hopefully.”