From walk-on to starter: Levi Wallace plays for his dad


Sam MacDonald

Cody Estremera

Cody Estremera | Assistant Sports Editor

Coming out of high school Levi Wallace’s plan was simple: go to his dream school of Alabama, get a business degree and become a pharmaceutical salesman. 

“I didn’t have any offers coming out of high school. I really wasn’t focused too much on football. I had a lot going on in my life, so I was really ready to let football go,” Wallace said.

That was the plan until his father, Walter, convinced Levi to try and walk onto Alabama’s team.

“He just said he believed in me, he always believed in me and my abilities,” Levi said. “He said, ‘you’re a great football player, so you might as well give it a shot and see where things go.’”

Wallace decided to take his father’s advice and go through the intense process of becoming a walk-on for the Crimson Tide.

“I wanted to see how it is going up against some of the best athletes, some of the best receivers that come to the University of Alabama. I just wanted to see how good I was,” Wallace said.

He put in the work and made the team. Then on the morning of his first A-Day as a member of the team, his father passed away after battling ALS, the nervous system disease that weakens muscles and impairs physical functions. 

Wallace continued to work after the passing of his father and was rewarded with a scholarship on Aug. 26, 2016. He finished with 11 tackles in 11 games that season, playing mostly special teams and in reserve. 

“You just hope to work hard and be the best you can be, and things just happened to work out,” Wallace said. 

Wallace came in against Florida State and finished with two tackles and one of Alabama’s interceptions.

“Coach (Jeremy) Pruitt talks a lot about poise and confidence, and that’s what I wanted to have,” Wallace said. “I wasn’t too nervous about it. I just wanted to go in there and do my job and help the team as best as I could. Coach Pruitt just called a really good play, and I just saw the ball coming and I made a play on it. I was just focused on catching the ball, and I tried to run, but unfortunately I got tackled.”

While many people were surprised by Wallace’s play against the then No. 3 Seminoles, his teammates weren’t surprised at all.

“He’s worked so hard for so long, it’s just great to see it finally paying off,” linebacker Keith Holcombe said. “He’s a great guy. I love him. One of the greatest friends to ever have and it’s really cool to see all this happening for him.” 

Even though he has had success without him, Wallace’s ultimate inspiration remains his father.

“Right before I go out onto the field I look up and thank him for the opportunity, for believing in me,” Wallace said. “I just try to play for him…. I just try to make every decision and every outcome with him in mind.”