By MATT VINES / The news star.com
Grambling seems to have alleviated its kicking woes over the past few games, but the Tigers may have found a long-term solution.
Rayville kicker/punter Jonathan Wallace committed to Grambling Wednesday to play football and baseball.
Wallace was the Class 3A all-state kicker in 2011, and he has made 4-of-6 field goals and 24-of-28 extra points this season. He has made all four attempts of 40 yards or less.
“The first thing that interested me is the opportunity to play football and baseball,” said Wallace, who is a shortstop. “It’s not too far from home, but it’s not right around the corner.
“Family and friends can come watch me, and there are people around Rayville who know GSU and love the tradition.”
Wallace said his parents attended Alcorn State, so he grew up watching Southwestern Athletic Conference sports.
Wallace was in the stands when GSU lost to Alabama State 19-18, a game in which a kicker could have made the difference. He said he hopes he can come in and make an immediate impact.
“I heard about (GSU) not being able to convert a short field goal against Alcorn State, and I was sitting in the stands for the Alabama State game,” Wallace said. “I couldn’t believe they didn’t have anybody to kick extra points.
“That was another factor in my decision.”
GSU’s Fabian Carter was injured early in the season, leaving coach Doug Williams to get help from intramural soccer player Phares Wabo and linebacker Angelo Eave.
Wallace has also had an impressive season on kickoffs and punts. He has 24 consecutive touchbacks while averaging 43 yards per punt.
He said Grambling’s baseball program is attractive because GSU shortstop Chris Wolfe was selected in the 30th round of the MLB Draft.
“I worked out for them this summer, and I impressed them,” Wallace said. “The coaches said I was raw and need to be coached up, and I am always looking for extra help to get better.
“They just put a shortstop in the major league draft, so maybe I can do that, too.”
Rayville football coach Lent Bursey said Grambling will be getting more than just a kicker.
“He’s an exceptional kicking specialist, but he’s also a great kid,” Bursey said. “He’s got a golden leg, and it’s paying big dividends right now.”