Much like the 2020 NFL Draft, the 2021 wide receiver class is set to have a lot of star power. In fact, Brad Kelly has already speculated whether next year’s prospects could be rated as highly as the this year’s class. The stud names such as Ja’Marr Chase of LSU, DeVonta Smith of Alabama as well as the big dogs from the Big Ten, Rondale Moore of Purdue and Rashod Bateman of Minnesota, are already well-known among college football fans.
However, if we head to the state of Oklahoma, there is a player who had an injury essentially prevent him from declaring for this year’s draft, where, if healthy, he might have been a high selection. If his recovery from an ACL tear progresses well, then Oklahoma State wide receiver Tylan Wallace has the talent to put his name among those headliners mentioned above.
Wallace’s already-impressive college career
Wallace hasn’t even turned 21 years old at the time of writing, but he has already built an incredible college resume. However, even before he got to college, he was lighting up the football field. Wallace played at South Hills High School in his hometown of Fort Worth, Texas where he shone brightly.
When he finished high school, Wallace ranked among the top-15 all-time in Texas high school football, with 3,760 career receiving yards to go along with 48 touchdowns and 182 catches. Wallace’s athleticism was not restricted to just the football field, as he was also a star on the baseball diamond as well as in track and field events.
When it came to recruiting, Wallace was a four-star recruit and ranked in the top-75 overall on ESPN. Ultimately, he would choose to play his football at Oklahoma State, passing over a number of other offers, including the Cowboys’ biggest rival in Oklahoma. Wallace’s college career started quietly, with seven receptions in 13 games for 118 yards. However, he showed early flashes of being a name to watch at the receiver position and also saw the field on special teams.
Wallace’s career started to take off in 2018
Once 2018 rolled around, Wallace began demonstrating the skills that have led to him being considered a star in the making. Wallace’s speed and excellent route-running made him one of the best college wide receivers in only his sophomore season. He finished with 1,491 receiving yards, which was second in the nation to the 1,698 recorded by Andy Isabella of Massachusetts.
Those performances meant Wallace was named a first-team All-American by The Sporting News and ESPN as well as being named to the first-team All-Big 12. However, perhaps his biggest achievement from that season was being named a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award in 2018, alongside Isabella and the eventual winner, Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy.
Wallace was putting together yet another strong season in 2019 before the ACL tear cut his season short after just eight games. Ultimately, his 2019 season would end with a stat line of 903 yards and 8 touchdowns on 53 catches.
Which traits stand out for Wallace?
What made Wallace so good in 2018, and then again in 2019 before his injury, was his ability to get off the line of scrimmage fast. Not many receivers can compare to Wallace in that area of the game and it immediately stands out on tape. His quick release and the speed he demonstrates in his route running are simply incredible. However, while highlighting a player’s speed can often be code for putting a negative connotation on a player as just a deep threat, Wallace offers much more. He is deadly anywhere on the field, be that short, intermediate, or deep routes, making him a very hard player to stop.
Additionally, he has some of the best hands in the country and he has demonstrated a tremendous catch radius. Quarterback Taylor Cornelius could throw to almost any point of the field or simply anywhere near Wallace and he could feel confident that his receiver was coming down with the football. On top of all that, his separation skills are very good and it means he typically gives his quarterback sizeable windows to throw into.
And then, when he does have the football in his hands, he simply makes plays. He has excellent yards-after-the-catch ability and blows right by his opponents. It is hard to emphasize just how good that combination is for any quarterback and offense.
What does Tylan Wallace have left to show in 2020?
The biggest and most glaring issue that Wallace needs to address with his play on the field in 2020 is that his recovery from the ACL tear is complete. He needs to demonstrate that he is back at a level somewhat close to what he was in 2018 and then again for the first eight weeks of 2019. If he does that, he is right back in the mix among the top wide receiver prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft class.
His size will be a little bit of a concern at just 185 pounds and around six feet tall, but he has the tools to overcome that size. A big question will be how he attacks press coverage, as that seems to be the biggest question mark with his on-field play when you watch the tape. Given the relatively small size, that is something a lot of teams will have their eye on to make sure he cannot be easily neutralized by bigger defenders at the next level.
Overall, there really is not that much Wallace needs to improve on when he returns to the field in 2020. It is rather a case of proving he is back to his old self while also demonstrating consistency in his play. It is easy to say and much harder to do, but show those flashes of his old self following his recovery, and Tylan Wallace will likely be a name on a lot of lips this time next year.