For the first time since being drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the spring of 2003, one of Iowa State’s all-time greats, Seneca Wallace, is not in an NFL camp this summer. Wallace, who will turn 34 in August, says that his NFL career isn’t over yet though. He will entertain any and all offers that might occur between now and the 2014 NFL season.
Through all the stops, Wallace has stayed true to one thing. He is an appreciative Cyclone. Wallace’s wife is from the state and No. 15 credits Ames as the place that launched his football career. Because of that, throughout his many travels over the years, Wallace has done his best to keep in touch with the Cyclones.
Recently, CycloneFanatic.com sat down to talk with Wallace about what he sees from the current state of Iowa State football as we know it. Enjoy these opinions from one of the all-team greats to ever dawn the Cardinal and Gold.
CF: I know that you have been in Ames fairly recently. What comes to your mind when you see the new facilities and also, hear plans for the future such as bowling in the end zone?
Wallace:I am a kid from California where I was getting recruited by all of these other schools coming out of junior college. Everybody wanted me to play another position but Iowa State wanted me to be a quarterback. I just remember back then being like, ‘I don’t even know where Iowa is.’ My brother’s fiancé at the time was from Iowa and told me to go check it out. Coming to Iowa State and seeing the facilities back then – now obviously I went to Oregon State out of high school so I had seen their facilities – but from leaving junior college and coming here, I was thinking that I was in heaven. But to see the things that have changed overall on the campus itself with the facilities and seeing the change from 13 change ago or whatever, it is incredible. The things that go into athletics and sports, to be able to build that program to where it is now with facilities alone is really going to help with recruiting and getting kids into the school. I was somewhat naive. I had been to other colleges but never really paid attention to the small things that you need to pay attention to like a JumboTron or stuff like that. All of those things that you need to be successful on the football field, I never paid attention to. Now going back and seeing the things that they have like the indoor facility, which we didn’t have, it is awesome to see that growth. It is going to help build the program to where hopefully, someday we are contenders for the Big 12 championship each and every year.
CF: How much exactly do you keep in touch with the program? It has to have been somewhat difficult with the NFL schedule over the past decade or so.
Wallace:Whenever they are on, I am tuned in and trying to watch if I am available. I want to see what is going on. The toughest part was when I was playing and during the season when they were playing on Saturday’s, we might be able to catch the tail end of a game after practice or something like that but I watch as much as I can so I can see what’s going on. With my wife being from here, her parents are always keeping us up to date too. I try my best.
CF: Obviously Paul Rhoads hiring Mark Mangino as his offensive coordinator was a huge story in the offseason. I know that he was at Kansas during your Iowa State career. What are your thoughts on Mangino being added to Iowa State’s staff?
Wallace:What has been successful over the last three or four years now, he was doing 12 or 13 years ago when I was in college. But things have changed so much. I sound like an old man but back in those days, teams in the NFL were looking for prototypical quarterbacks coming from prototypical offenses in college. It wasn’t like a spread out offense like you see now. He was doing that back when he was at Kansas though. Now they are getting more glorified for it where if you have the certain type of players at the right positions, the offense can be very tough to stop. I think that was him coming here and bringing that type of offense is really going to help. Kids will get on the field that probably wouldn’t have back in the day. It’s all about athleticism. It is a good hire by Iowa State as he will be able to showcase talent. This is a new system and it is going to take some time, especially when those bullets are flying in a regular season game against a Big 12 opponent. The dynamic is going to be a lot different.
CF: You were around Ames during spring ball. Did you get a look at the quarterbacks and if so, what do you think about that competition heading into the fall?
Wallace:I saw all of the quarterbacks. I just think it is going to take some time for them to gel and get comfortable in that offense. It is a tough offense to grasp so as long as they continue to keep working, the biggest thing for those kids is to be able to play freely. Just play with confidence and minimize mistakes. Don’t turn the ball over and put your defense into a tough situation. I think the biggest thing is that when they go into camp in terms or separation between quarterbacks, making those plays consistently and not turning the ball over is what the coaches are looking for. If you’re putting your team in a bad situation or taking points off of the board, that’s tough.