DALLAS (AP) - Anthony Wallace was just another linebacker at Dallas Skyline High School last year. Now he's being touted as the next great one at a school that routinely sends the quarterback of its defense to a major college.
Coaches were content a year ago to let Wallace play a secondary role to a pair of Division I-bound linebackers in Corey Nelson (Oklahoma) and Domonique Patterson (Texas A&M). Things are different now.
"He's kind of been the pup growing up with the other linebackers that graduated the last three years," said linebackers coach Jason Todd. "I'm looking for him to turn that next page and be a dominant force play in and play out."
Nelson was a rare two-time first-team selection on The Associated Press Sports Editors Class 5A all-state team, topped by the Defensive Player of the Year award last season. Wallace isn't as fast as many of his predecessors, but is a better mix of speed and size for a middle linebacker.
"I really feel Anthony has the potential to be the best one," Todd said. "He can run. He's very physical. He has a real nasty linebacker mentality on the field."
Todd said Anthony is a thinker, too, which is important in a system that makes him responsible for putting teammates in the right spots before each snap.
"You've got know what the person next to you, behind you, in front of you is doing and still do your job at the same time," Anthony said. "I kind of like that, being in control of it."
The son of a college linebacker from Texas Southern, Anthony rarely wavered on his favorite position growing up. There was never a question about where he'd play at Skyline either.
"We were told in eighth grade that he was an animal, and it panned out," Todd said. "Everything we were told was the truth."