One of Colin Walls’ most impressive feats on the football field — and there were more than a few — was how quickly he earned the respect of his teammates.
Walls was a transfer student who spent just one season in the Richmond program. Before he played even one down at linebacker for the Red Devils, Walls was voted as a team captain.
“I really didn’t know what to expect,” Walls said Wednesday during a ceremony at Tiernan Center. “I had a group of friends who helped me out, kept me motivated, kept me working hard.
“I earned a captain’s spot. I knew, with that spot, they looked up to me. They expected a lot. It meant a lot. It meant they really saw something in me that I really didn’t see in myself like that.”
Teammates, friends, administrators and family gathered to see Walls and RHS teammate Auntonio Brown commit to their football futures.
Walls will stay in Indiana and play at the University of St. Francis, the NAIA program in Fort Wayne. Brown decided on Urbana University, an NCAA Division II school in Ohio.
“I think it’s a good fit for both of them, both academically and athletically,” said RHS coach Matt Holeva. “They are the kind of kids where anywhere would be a good fit. They are good students, good people, good players.”
Walls’ impact on Red Devil football went beyond leadership.
He was a steady presence on the defensive side of the ball, earning all-North Central Conference accolades as he racked up 64 tackles and tied for team-high honors with five sacks.
If opposing offenses happened to find a way around or away from Nate Trawick, Richmond’s Division I defensive lineman, they soon found themselves having to contend with Walls in the middle.
“(He was) able to help solidify our defense, so that was great,” Holeva said of Walls.
“He’s kind of a quiet kid. He’s a quiet leader. But the respect that he’s earned from the rest of the team having only been here since last winter, yet they voted him one of the team captains, I think that just gives a little testament of who he is as a kid.”
Walls’ connection to Richmond athletics goes beyond just his one season as a Red Devil.
Walls’ mother, Monique, is widely regarded as one of the best athletes to ever compete at Richmond High School. The 1991 RHS graduate was a three-sport star in volleyball, basketball and track who went on to become the nation’s leading scorer in basketball at Vincennes Junior College. She was also a member of the 1994 University of Alabama women’s basketball team that played in the Final Four.
“Words can’t express how proud I am,” Monique Walls said Wednesday of her son’s signing with St. Francis.
“It was exciting (to watch him at Richmond), not just myself but family in general. He knew he had a good support system out there cheering for him and waiting for him.”
Walls plans to major in business management at St. Francis with a minor in communications.
St. Francis finished 6-5 a year ago. Walls said the school “felt like home” during a visit.
“Everybody doesn’t get this opportunity,” he said. “I’m really appreciative and I’m really grateful.
“The coaches just feel really genuine, feel like they really care about you. They care about your well being and your education. That’s the most important thing.”
Walls’ goal for his college career is to be the best player he can be, wherever the Cougars need him.
“Whether it’s being a role player or being a full-fledged starter, whatever they need me to do I’m out there to do it,” he said.
Josh Chapin: (765) 973-4463 firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/JoshChapinPI