Former Wildcat Wallace glad to be in Bowling Green

Junior tight end Ryan Wallace, a Bowling Green native, is back home after transferring from UK.

Brad Stephens

Ryan Wallace is finally back home.

He grew up in Bowling Green, the son of Bowling Green High School head football coach and WKU alum Kevin Wallace, and Dana Wallace, a former Lady Topper basket- ball player that was on two Final Four teams.

After playing for his father, Wallace moved on to the University of Colorado, where he sat the bench for a season.

Wanting to come closer to home, Wallace transferred to the University of Kentucky. But because of family circumstances and a lack of playing time after two seasons at UK, he decided to come all the way back home to Bowling Green.

The junior tight end is now in his first sea- son at WKU, a school he said he’s been a fan of his whole life.

“All my family is back here,” Wallace said. “I’m really enjoying it.”

Head Coach Willie Taggart said it’s been a smooth transition for Wallace.

“He’s on familiar turf, and I think that helps him a lot,” Taggart said. “He’s fit in perfect with our guys. You can’t really tell he’s a transfer.”

Wallace had a standout high school carer as a tight end for Bowling Green. He com-

piled more than 1,000 receiving yards in his prep career and earned First Team All-State honors during his senior year.

Taggart recruited Wallace during his time as an assistant at WKU and later at Stanford He said that he and Wallace developed a close bond during that process, and that their relationship has now deepened as Taggart is coaching Wallace for the first time.

“Ryanspendsalotoftimetalkingtome,” Taggart said. “Out of all the kids on our foot- ball team, I think he’s one of the kids that’s more comfortable with me.”

EasingWallace’scomfortlevelisaswitch back to his natural position of tight end, as he was listed as an offensive tackle during his days on the UK roster. Wallace will comple- ment junior captain Jack Doyle at the tight end position this season.

Tackles/tight ends coach Stu Holt called WKU’s scheme a “great offensive system for a tight end” and said Wallace’s blocking abilities will allow him to play a large role in a run-oriented Topper offense.

“We’d like to use him in run and pass situ- ations, but he’s definitely stronger blocking,” Holt said. “He’s got the best pass sets of any- one we have at tight end because he’s done it before.

“He plays hard and has good technique so we’d like to use him in all facets of the game.

But certainly the run game is to his strength.”

Wallace’s first game as a Topper came against one of his old teams, UK,Thursday night.

Wallace said he still has friends on the team, and that they kept in touch in the days leading up to the game.

He said conversations focused not on football, but just catching up on everyday life.

He said in the days leading up to that game that play- ing against his former teammates would be exciting, but that he was approaching the game like any other.

“You’ve got to get over the first real high of going out there and get settled down and get going,” Wallace said. “When I step out on the field I’ll just have to do that.”

He’ll have two years as a Topper to continue his hometown legacy.

Taggart said now that Wallace is back in Bowling Green, he sees him carrying on the Topper family tradi- tion.

“He’s working hard every day to get better as a foot- ball player,” Taggart said. “He’ll do a really good job for us.”