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Tucson High’s Levi Wallace boosts Alabama’s D

Levi Wallace

Levi Wallace

Tucson High graduate Levi Wallace spent part of Saturday afternoon playing for Alabama’s first-team defense.

Yeah. Wallace. A former walk-on. Playing for the best defense in the land. Against Auburn in the Iron Bowl.

“He did a good job,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said in a press conference Monday. “Had a couple of coverage opportunities where he did a nice job.”

Wallace, a junior, entered late in the third quarter for injured cornerback Marlon Humphrey. Earlier in the game, Alabama’s “Star” defensive back Tony Brown — basically a third corner in the nickel package — had been ejected for targeting. Alabama lost All-SEC safety Eddie Jackson earlier in the season.

So, the Tide already was shorthanded and was shuffling personnel when Humphrey went down. In came Wallace for meaningful minutes in a 30-12 victory over Auburn. He made two tackles.

“Levi did a good job for us yesterday,” Saban said Sunday. “He’s been in the program for a long time and really understands what to do and how to do it and has done really well for us this year and been a really good backup and contributed on special teams.”

Wallace, who hadn’t played before this season but picked up a championship ring from Alabama’s 2015 season, made his career debut against USC back on Sept. 3. He has appeared in eight games, making 10 tackles and breaking up two passes.

The coaches selected him as one of the team’s special teams players of the week following the game against Mississippi State on Nov. 12.

(This isn’t meant to be a “Why didn’t Arizona take him?” story; it’s simply recognizing a local talent who worked to make the most of the opportunity when his number was called.)

It’s all very impressive. Amid all of Alabama’s four- and five-star recruits, a walk-on from Tucson who didn’t have FBS offers ends up helping a defense that didn’t give up a touchdown in November. Wallace has family in Alabama. His brother, Lawrence Wallace, is a sophomore competing in the long jump for the Crimson Tide. Lawrence won the Arizona state long jump title with a leap of 25 feet, 1 3/4 inches.

Saban said he was “hopeful” of having Humphrey available for Saturday’s SEC title game against Florida, and Brown will be eligible for the entire game.

Wallace might not get another big shot. But he’ll be ready.

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