For the second time in as many weeks, one of the Chattanooga-area's top-rated prep football prospects has transferred to another local program.
AJ Wallace, a 3-star prospect according to Rivals.com with multiple FBS-level offers and who had played previously at Chattanooga Christian, has officially enrolled at South Pittsburg. Wallace said he and his family visited several other area schools in recent weeks before deciding to move to South Pittsburg and play his final season with the perennial Class 1A contender.
"I had actually thought about transferring to South Pitt before last season but wound up staying at CCS," Wallace said. "The tradition and how everybody is one big family in a small town, those are some things that really got my attention.
"It's been hectic trying to find a new school and team, but once we looked closer at South Pittsburg it just felt like home right away. I want to experience playing for a program that has a lot of tradition, where the whole community comes out to support the team every week, and where my teammates and I will have a good shot at playing for a state championship."
Wallace attended his first practice with the Pirates on Monday afternoon. Prior to his transfer, another highly sought-after prospect — Boo Carter — officially transferred from Brainerd High to Bradley Central the previous week.
The 6-foot-3, 181-pound Wallace currently has offers from Kentucky, Mississippi State, Virginia Tech and Louisville, as well as Toledo, Central Michigan, Eastern Kentucky, Austin Peay and UT-Chattanooga.
Having recently turned 16, Wallace said because he believes he is not yet fully developed physically or athletically, he is not sure if he will commit to a college for the 2024 recruiting cycle or possibly enroll at a prep school before choosing a college program.
Wallace will join a Pirates offense which returns senior all-state quarterback Kamden Wellington, a Mr. Football semifinalist last season who threw for 2,162 yards and 33 touchdowns, as well as senior all-state slot receiver Racash Kelly among others.
Wallace and Kelly were named the top two receivers and Wellington was named the MVP of the quarterback group at last week's Austin Peay prospects camp.
"We played against him last year and I've seen highlights from other games, so we know he's a special player," Pirates coach Wes Stone said. "He will be a big asset to a receiving corps that we already felt good about with Racash and several others. Having AJ will help make sure teams can't try to double-cover Cash or focus on trying to stop any one player.
"It just makes our offense a lot more complete and dynamic. Not to mention, with his physicality, we believe he can help us on the defensive side of the ball as well. We're just anxious to see what he can do."
Although Wallace did not see much action on defense at CCS, he is expected to compete for playing time at safety for the Pirates, where he would join all-state linebacker Jamarion Farrior and Logan Hargis, an all-state track hurdler.
Mississippi State, Louisville, Toledo and Central Michigan have all informed Wallace they are recruiting him to play defensive back.
"I was definitely looking to be a part of an offense that throws the ball a lot more and I knew about Kamden from seeing him and working out with him at camps," said Wallace, who was timed at 4.51 seconds in the 40-yard dash at a camp at Wayne State in Detroit earlier this summer, and who qualified for the state track meet in the high jump by clearing 6-foot, 6-inches. "We've got a lot of weapons already on the team and I'm just looking forward to helping out, however I can on both sides of the ball.
"I like the idea of getting to play defense because it's more physically demanding on that side and you can lay people out. I can't put into words how excited I am to play for South Pittsburg, showcase my talents in 7-on-7 this summer and then help us compete for a state ring."
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org.