HYATTSVILLE – After a long deliberation with coaches and family, DeMatha Catholic High School two-sport athlete Joshua Wallace finally decided which school and sport he would be dedicating his path on.
Following a championship season with the Stags basketball team last year and on pace for another run, Wallace announced on Jan. 22 that he was committing to the University of Massachusetts and to play football for the next four years.
Wallace, a 6-foot-1 athlete who also played cornerback for DeMatha’s football team, knew choosing the gridiron was the easiest chose for him. Football is where his heart is and has always enjoyed watching the sport more than basketball, the senior said.
“The process has been pretty crazy,” Wallace said, “Not knowing if a school is going to offer u or not.”
Lastly, he believes his self-described press and ball-hawking style of play as a defensive back, that helped DeMatha only give up 194 points last season, can help the Minutemen. A 4-8 finish and a defense that ranked 126th out of 129th in scoring defense, and gave up nearly 485 yards ensures a spot in the cornerback position for Wallace. Wallace picked off four passes, recovered three fumbles, and broke up 11 passes in his senior campaign at corner.
The new staff from UMass, featuring new head coach Walt Bell, was also a key part in the decision, Wallace stated. He listed the youth movement and new culture being put in place by Bell and the Minutemen staff, as major attractions. From top-to-bottom, Wallace noticed an infectious energy and how “hungry” everybody at the university was during his visit on Jan. 19.
“The new staff played a big role of me committing there,” Wallace said, “They are all young coaches and they all are ready for a new culture.”
Josh Wilson, former nine-year NFL veteran cornerback and one of Wallace’s position coaches at DeMatha, said that Wallace will be “hidden gem” for the UMass locker room and a figure in keeping the culture of the rebuilding program. Although he is unsure of what his role will be and the competition that lies ahead, Wallace is only focused on competing and helping the defense wherever he can.
“UMass just got the steal of the century,” Wilson said, “Kid’s a going to be a great corner!”
One thing that’ll help make the college transition will be the help of teammate and fellow UMass commit Jermaine Johnson. The 5-foot-10 wide receiver committed early to UMass and was a part of the team’s eight signees during the early signing period.
Johnson is counted amongst Wallace’s closest friends on DeMatha, along with fellow cornerback Nick Cross and free safety DeMarcco Hellams. The three members of the secondary were critical in DeMatha’s eight-win season that earned them a trip to the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) Championship game.
“That’s my bro he a great kid very competitive and just great to be around wants to learn never arrogant just a great guy,” Cross said, “It’s great to know I don’t have to worry about having to save him, but he knows I have his help whenever on and off-the-field.”
Currently, the senior plays on the basketball team, averaging 5.3 points per game. The Stags sit at first place in the WCAC standings at 11-0 and 19-2 overall. According to Wallace, the season has been going well and he believes that the Stags will be repeating as WCAC champions. After this season basketball will be on the backburner so creating these last memories are important. He joins a long line of two-sport athletes that DeMatha that have gone star at their schools as Chase Young or Justin Gielen. Since he’s currently in-season, Wallace hasn’t been able to take a moment to step back and appreciate the journey he’s been on to this point.
“I haven’t really thought that deep into it,” Wallace said, “ But it is really special”
Wallace commend Joan Phalen, a tutor and teacher, who was a part of the DeMatha Academic Support staff that helped him become college ready. Wallace is leaning towards earning a business degree, although he isn’t 100 percent sure that’ll be his final decision.
One thing he does know is he is prepared to fight for his spot on the next season’s team.
“Just going there to compete,” Wallace said. “That’s all you can ask for.”