Wallace Island: K'von Wallace thriving at boundary corner


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Wallace stretches before the championship game against Alabama (Photo by Kim Klement, USA Today)
Wallace stretches before the championship game against Alabama (Photo by Kim Klement, USA Today)

CLEMSON – Former Clemson cornerback Cordrea Tankersley had some words of wisdom for freshman defensive back K’Von Wallace before Tankersley left for the NFL: move to boundary corner.

Wallace heard, and he made the move.

Wallace was a late addition to Clemson’s 2016 recruiting class, brought in to replace the attrition caused by the early departures of Mackensie Alexander, Jayron Kearse, and T.J. Green and the transfer of Jefferie Gibson.

Wallace, out of Richmond (VA) Highland Springs, selected Clemson over offers from Michigan State, Pittsburgh and Ohio State and played in all 15 games last season. He logged six tackles and an interception in 109 snaps, contributing mostly on special teams and at either the nickel or safety position.

But Wallace wanted to move back to corner, and he got his chance after Clemson defeated Alabama in early January.

“After the championship game, he (secondary coach Mike Reed) asked me what position I preferred, and I told him boundary corner,” Wallace told TigerNet after Friday’s practice. “So going out there and competing like Deon Cain is making me better, and that is what I love to do. It isn't a big transition, but the hardest thing is knowing the coverages. It's a pretty easy transition, and I have been in the film room putting in work.”

The interview with Wallace lasted a mere six minutes, but one word popped up over and over and gave a glimpse into why he has a chance to solidify himself at his new position. He likes to compete, and it was that competitive desire that gained Tankersley’s attention.

“It's great going out there and competing and getting better each day. I talk to my teammates and they are always teaching me,” Wallace said. “Especially Ryan Carter, he is always teaching me. It's great being around him. He is a great veteran and a leader. And Cordrea taught me the ropes, too. Before he left, he told me he thought I should move to boundary corner. I learned from the best, He liked the way I competed. I am a loud and talkative person and he liked that. I talk, but I back it up, too.”

Wallace said he learned a lot last season, sitting back and watching and taking advantage of his playing opportunities. He notched 20 snaps against N.C. State and capitalized with his first career interception, with a tackle for loss as well, and played 15 snaps at Florida State. He also had a tackle in 14 snaps against Pittsburgh.

“I am glad Coach (Brent) Venables gave me that experience and allowed me to go out there and compete,” Wallace said. “Being thrown in the fire was the best thing that happened to me, and it allowed to compete and be the best I can be.”

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says he loves what he’s seen out of Wallace this spring.

“He's physical. We really wanted to try and get him some confidence in that spot,” Swinney said. “Just really see how he would do, because we knew he could play nickel for us and that he could play safety. We wanted to evaluate those younger safeties and we really challenged him and see how he's done over there. He's done a really nice job and he's a handful over there. He's got great feet and he's probably the most physical guy just from a jam technique that we've got. Good things from K'Von."

Wallace is pleased with the position switch. Why? Because he likes to compete.

“Definitely. It's the best position to go compete, and it's the hardest position,” Wallace said. “I feel like I am a great athlete, and being in that position to go and compete with those big, physical, receivers is great. I am a big physical, guy and I have a knack for it. I like competing. That is why I play the game.”

Wallace said he likes being out on an island by himself – the term used for a corner who covers the receiver without help – and while he doesn’t have a name for the piece of real estate he protects.

“I don’t, but I will,” he said. “They don’t know who I am or know my presence. But they will.”

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