ON SPORTS: Cuero's Wallace makes the most of opportunity with Buccaneers
Jan. 23, 2013 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated Jan. 22, 2013 at 7:23 p.m.
Cody Wallace is convinced God works in mysterious ways.
He and his wife, Chele, promised in their prayers to share their good fortune if he ever made the roster of an NFL team.
Wallace fulfilled the promise after signing with Tampa Bay before the season.
He sent $5,000 to fellow Cuero graduate Andrew Heard a day after he had to pay a medical bill for that exact amount in his battle with cancer.
Wallace also sent $2,500 to former neighbors in Houston, a day after they had paid that exact amount for a down payment for a car.
Wallace, 28, considers his opportunity to play for the Buccaneers a blessing after he was among the final cuts made by the Houston Texans.
"Every time you're somewhere new there's a little adjustment," Wallace said from his in-laws' home in Pleasanton, Calif., where he is spending the offseason with his wife and eight-month old son, Ryder. "But I feel like we're headed in the right direction. Coach (Greg) Schiano knows football and we seem to be doing really well."
Wallace was an all-state lineman at Cuero and earned All-Big 12 honors as a center at Texas A&M.
He was selected in the fourth round of the 2008 draft by the San Francisco 49ers.
Wallace played in only one game for the 49ers before being waived after training camp in 2010.
He was on the Detroit Lions' roster for three weeks, but spent most of his time on the practice squads of the Lions, New York Jets and Houston Texans.
Wallace was invited to training camp by the Texans before this season and was released the day after the last preseason game.
He was picked up on waivers the next day by Tampa Bay. A day later, he was on a plane to Florida.
"I flew out and tried to learn the playbook really quick," he said. "I was actually kind of thrown into it. I learned what I could."
Wallace played in eight games for the Buccaneers, getting on the field for kickoff returns and field goals, as well as on the offensive line.
His most extensive action came when he lined up at left guard for 11 plays against the New Orleans Saints.
"During the week, I played a lot of center on the scout team and rotated to wherever they needed me," he said. "I played some left tackle and tight end. It was a good experience."
Wallace also did some deep snapping for the Buccaneers after their backup went on injured reserve.
"Every day I got in some extra work with the special teams coach," he said. "I was always kind of doing it, but never felt like I could do it in a game. It's a good little skill to have."
The biggest difference Wallace found from being on the roster as opposed to the practice squad was the amount of time he was in the film room.
"There's a lot more mental work," he said. "You have to know more about the game plan and really study it. You watch a lot more film on the opponent."
Wallace also had to learn a new blocking scheme in Tampa Bay.
"Houston used to run a lot of stretch plays," he said. "Here, there is more of a power running game. You're doing a lot of down blocking. I put on a little weight over the summer (from 300 to 310 pounds), and that really helped me."
Wallace credits his faith and the value of hard work he learned while growing up in Cuero with his grandparents Rachel and Chester, who he affectionately calls "Muff" and "Puff," for his ability to persevere in pro football.
"I've always wanted to play as long as I could," he said. "When you're on the practice squads, you have some doubts. But it was great to get in some real games and play. You're always looking for the opportunity and I want to make the most of it."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.