During his 73-yard touchdown run at Mercer, Citadel slotback Cooper Wallace was timed at 20.2 mph by an analytics website.
That's right at the speed limit on The Citadel's campus — for a car. For a human being, it's pretty fast.
According to the Sporting News, the fastest ball-carrier run in the NFL in 2020 was 23.09 mph by the 49ers' Raheem Mostert.
Wallace's run was "one of the fastest max speeds of the (college football) weekend," said sports tech company Recruiting Analytics.
A 5-10, 195-pound redshirt freshman from West Florence High School, Wallace has made a sudden impact on the Bulldogs. He ran for 128 yards on just nine carries in a 42-28 loss at Mercer on Feb. 27, helping spur a Citadel comeback after the Bulldogs fell behind 28-0 at halftime.
Wallace, who played quarterback at West Florence High School and spent some time at QB with the Bulldogs, has run for 180 yards on 28 carries in five games during the 2020-21 fall/spring season, averaging 6.4 yards per carry. With QB Jaylan Adams rushing for 144 yards against Mercer, they became the first pair of Bulldogs to go over the 100-yard mark in the same game since 2018, when Brandon Rainey and Clay Harris turned the trick against Western Carolina.
.@CitadelFootball RB Cooper Wallace (@cooperwallace3) posted one of the fastest max speeds from this weekend, reaching 20.2 MPH on this 73-yard TD @FCS_Football #myRAmaxspeed Powered by @RAanalytics pic.twitter.com/p7mCIV17zH— Cory Yates (@CoryRAanalytics) March 1, 2021
"Cooper has done a really good job," said Citadel coach Brent Thompson. "He's got a lot of good qualities, and needs to refine a few things. He's not overly comfortable there yet and it doesn't come naturally to him. But you can see that when he gets the ball in the open field, he made a terrific run. He's got some strength and desire to get extra yards, so I was pleased with him.
"This will be one of the benefits leading into next year. We'll have some of those younger A-backs ready to go."
Adams and Wallace also misplayed a couple of option pitches, leading to two turnovers and a 25-yard scoop and score for the Bears.
Transfer portal numbers
In The Citadel's loss at Mercer, the Bears' leading rusher was a transfer who played last fall at Appalachian State. The receiver who caught a back-breaking TD to thwart the Bulldogs' comeback started his career at Georgia. And the tight end who caught a 75-yard TD pass on the game's first play came over from Lenoir-Rhyne. Those are three of the Bears' 10 transfer players.
This week, The Citadel plays its spring home opener against Chattanooga, which has (by my unofficial count) 25 transfers from four-year colleges. That includes the starting quarterback (from Old Dominion), the No. 2 rusher (from Western Kentucky), the top receiver (from Middle Tennessee State) and the top tackler (Louisville) as well as some regulars on the offensive line.
The transfer portal has been a game-changer throughout college sports, and the freedom it grants players to find the best place for them is the right thing to do, in my opinion.
But it's a game that is difficult to play for military schools such as The Citadel and VMI, which require undergrads to undergo military training and the rigors of the "knob year" (at VMI, the "rat year"). Not many sophomores and juniors are up for that.
"I don't disparage anyone for taking transfers," The Citadel's Thompson said. "If that's the way they want to build their program, that's perfectly fine. Being here at The Citadel, we don't build our program on too many fifth-year transfers, which is probably the only avenue we can go.
"It's become more a part of football, and has been a huge part of basketball for many years. It's a philosophy more than anything else, that some guys will try to get good fast. For what we do, in the triple option and a military college, we're going to take guys and develop them from freshman and sophomores. Our fifth-year (transfers) will come in spots where we really need them."
With a graduate school, The Citadel can at least take graduate transfers, unlike VMI, and currently has two in football: Safety Parrish Gordon from Old Dominion and lineman/tight end Summie Carlay from South Carolina.
Here is my unofficial count of transfers on SoCon football squads: Chattanooga 25; Samford 12; Mercer 10; ETSU 9; Western Carolina 4; Wofford 3; The Citadel 2; Furman 1; VMI 0.
The SoCon has had a second game postponed due to COVID-19 issues. Wofford's home game against ETSU set for March 6 has been called off after the Terriers fell below the guideline of available players at a specific position group due to a combination of COVID opt-outs and injuries.
Chattanooga's season opener against VMI on Feb. 20 also was postponed. No word on make-up dates.