A few days before national signing day TheClemsonInsider.com sat down with Clemson signee Colton Walls and his father Wesley Walls. Wesley, who played his college football at Ole Miss and was an NFL All-Pro with the Carolina Panthers, and Colton go in-depth on the recruiting process, the Clemson staff and much more!
We’ll start with you with you Wesley actually you’ve been through what Colton went through and I’m sure things are a lot different now than they were with the media and internet and 500 people calling him every day. How is it different today than when it was when you committed to Ole Miss and signed with Ole Miss?
It was 1985 when I came out of high school, that’s a long time ago. It starts a little soon now, after your tenth grade or junior year season, these guys are serious about getting out there and offering scholarships. I didn’t talk a scholarship until after my senior year and then the guys started coming around and coming to some of my games. But the internet and media, TV, these rating agencies like Rivals and Scouts are so popular now; the information out there is much more accessible than it was when I came out.
Well now we’ve got Brentson doing a weekly column for us and we talked to him about recruiting this week and he told us to throw those stars out the window, he just wants football players.
Well that’s what I tell Colton, I say thank goodness, I would have been a two star or maybe a one star coming out of high school, Colton was a much better high school football player than I was. But Brentson is right, when you get there it is all stars and we love you, we want you to come here we’re going to feed you and take care of you and treat you real nice. But now it’s time to go to work and I know Colton is aware of that and understands that.
Colton, now how excited are you for Wednesday?
I’m really excited I’ve been waiting on it for almost a year now it seems like; I’m excited to go there and sign the scholarship.
Now tell us about your relationship with Coach Pearman your recruiter?
Coach Pearman, I’ve seen him a lot recently, he started coming to school around this time last year I started seeing him, told me to come to camp and I did and got offered there. He’s been in and out of Charlotte since then.
Now how about Dabo?
Coach Swinney is a really good guy. He’s the reason why I chose Clemson, because I had a great relationship with him.
Alright Dad now how about your thoughts on Dabo? Obviously you’ve seen it on all different levels so what are your thoughts?
I think what you see from him is how he really is. He didn’t try to put on a show for these kids he was straight forward, he’s a man of god and loves his players. He’s going to be there to help them be better men when they graduate there and sees that as a big responsibility of his. As a father I get chill bumps talking about it, I couldn’t be more excited to know that he’ll be under Coach Swinney for four or five years, I know that Colton will come back a better man.
What are your thoughts on Coach Steele?
Coach Steele is a genius with the defense he puts in. He coached me a little at the camp and he’s a real intense guy. It didn’t take a lot of time for him to open up on the practice field and it was fun, I learned a lot in a little bit of time.
Now Wesley, I know Coach Steele was with the Panthers at one point, what is your background with him and what are your thoughts on him?
I’ve known Coach Steele obviously when I was here and have followed him everywhere he’s been. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Steele and everyone who’s played for him does too. He’s just a great guy, a great coach but he wants it done right. All coaches do, but if Coach Steele says it one way and another coach says it another way, but Coach Steele is a great communicator and you can’t help but hear him.
Colton, tell us a little bit about your expectations for your first year when you get there.
Well I’m hoping to get a starting job on Special Teams and then hopefully get into the rotation, that’s my goal. If I get redshirted we’ll see what happens.
Obviously there’s a lot of talk because you’re one of the guys that can play either way, what’s your preference? Linebacker or H-Back?
Colton– I like defense so linebacker for me, but H-back isn’t bad.
Dad– To me, Colton is really a good linebacker but I can’t help to push him to the offensive side of the ball because I’ve seen guys that look like him and with the skill set that he has play fullback or H-back but it’s good because when I played I was a long snapper, defensive end, linebacker and then ended up being a tight end so I always say the more you can do the better.
Who has the better hands?
Dad– Oh he knows that, but I tell you what, you’ve got to work it. My hands when I was a young man I just had no confidence, couldn’t catch the ball I was a blocking tight end earlier in my career. But it’s ironic at the end of my career I couldn’t block all I could do was catch. You get labeled real early; you just have to work to catch the ball.
Colton how much of a relief is it going to be next week just to get signed and get that work out plan from Clemson?
Well my dad’s been giving me a work out plan for the past few weeks so I’m pretty excited to stop doing that and see what Clemson has for me.
Think it’s going to be easier do you?
Colton– No not easier but up to date and different.
Dad– I tell you one thing, I can’t wait to see those work outs there going to send. We got to spend some time with the Strength Coach; Clemson’s got a great advantage with him in their program, what they’re doing in the weight room is just incredible. Wish they had that back in the day.
Now Colton, what’s it going to feel like to run down the hill with 85,000 fans in the stands?
I’ve done it a couple times on Junior Day and Official Visit day and they play a video in the background and I got chill bumps just doing it then just imagine what it’s going to be like with 85,000 people in the stands. It’s going to be unreal.
What’s it like being a part of a Top 10 recruiting class? Clemson’s got one of the best recruiting classes in the nation this year.
I was down there on my Official visit and there were 20 of the committed players there and there were some really impressive looking athletes there, they were some big guys.
That’s on you though; you don’t usually hear a head coach talking so much about the guys that are coming during a season, he’s talked during the second or third week during the season saying help is on the way, we’re going to turn this thing around. How does it feel to be a part of what will change the future of Clemson?
Colton– It’s an honor to be a part of it; I’m really excited to see what we can do. We had all the recruits together saying if we could get all of the recruits in this room to come here we’ll have more rings than fingers.
Dad– I agree with Colton, I’ve been around athletes for a long time if they could have put helmets, jerseys and shoulder pads on all of those kids they had on those trips and sign them up they’re going to have a lot of wins in their future.
Dad, last question for you, what’s your advice for Colton, Obviously it’s going to be hard for Mom and Dad seeing their son to leave and be a couple of hours away what advice do you give him seeing that you’ve been through this process?
You’ve got to enjoy football it’s hard, there’s nothing easy about being a football player. The only chance that guys like me and Colton have is that we have to outwork people. That’s going to be the difference maker for Colton and to have fun. You’ve got to enjoy and have fun.
Last question for you Colton, what’s your message for Clemson fans? We’re going to wait and play this on Signing Day when you guys are officially Tigers.
I’m excited to get down there and see what I can do.