Note: The following appears in the Wake Forest gameday football program.
Despite all of the success that he has experienced since stepping onto the field as a Tiger for the first time in 2016, senior safety K’Von Wallace has not forgotten what it took to get to where he is now. From a two-star prospect who was recruited late in his prep career to a staple of the Clemson secondary, Wallace has put together an impressive success story that was made possible by his unwavering belief in himself.
Wallace emanates confidence and poise in everything he does, and he credits that self-assurance with helping to fuel his rise to prominence.
“I never gave up,” recalled Wallace when looking back on the early stages of his college career. “I never doubted myself. I was always confident and kept faith in who I am and who I wanted to be. I knew what I was capable of.”
Wallace has been a part of two national championship seasons, the first of which occurred when he was a freshman backup in 2016. In one of the most critical matchups of that season, Wallace picked off an NC State pass in front of a raucous Death Valley crowd, and the interception served as a pivotal play in a crucial victory. Furthermore, the defensive feat foreshadowed what was to come in Wallace’s Clemson tenure, as the defensive back has developed a reputation as a clutch playmaker.
That proved especially true in the Tigers’ recent home-and-home series with Texas A&M. In the 2018 matchup, Wallace put on a show in the defensive backfield, doing his part to stave off an Aggie comeback by consistently breaking up passes, providing lockdown coverage and causing an important turnover near the goal line. Wallace capped off the standout showing by intercepting a potential game-tying two-point conversion attempt in the final minute.
Clemson held on for the win and came out on top again in 2019 in a game that featured Wallace totaling a team-high 10 tackles, a sack and four quarterback pressures while also earning ACC Defensive Back of the Week honors.
In his mind, one play in particular stands out among the rest, and it took place early in his senior campaign. Having played wide receiver throughout his entire youth, Wallace makes a habit out of giving it his all on interception returns in the hope of reliving his receiving glory by reaching the endzone. When taking on Charlotte at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 21, his dream came true, as he returned an interception 66 yards for his first career touchdown.
“That was important to me. I always wanted to get in the endzone. I still have that hunger to score because I become the receiver that I miss being. I want to put the ball in the endzone and give my team a better opportunity to win.”
Prior to joining the Tigers, Wallace was a jack-of-all-trades on the gridiron while competing for Highland Springs High School, located near Richmond, Va. Wallace was an all-state performer at both defensive back and wideout, and he excelled as a wildcat quarterback.
A special talent, Wallace, who was also a standout sprinter on his high school track team, used his trademark speed to catch the attention of recruiters late in the process, and it also enabled him to have the opportunity to run in the New Balance National High School Championships in 2015.
Along with other notable programs, the Tigers recruited him, and the connection he felt with Clemson’s family atmosphere ultimately swayed him to become a Tiger, a commitment he considers to be one of his best decisions.
“My Clemson experience has been a blessing. Not too many people from where I’m from get this opportunity. For me to go to a Division I university and be as successful as I am, I’m blessed.”
Off the field, Wallace has been a shining star for the Tigers, as the communication major is a three-time ACC Academic Honor Roll member who has undertaken microinternships with Cisco and the NFL through P.A.W. Journey.
Wallace is a P.A.W. Journey ambassador, and he considers Tiger legend Jeff Davis, P.A.W. Journey’s founder, to be his most important role model at Clemson. Wallace lauded Davis for changing his perspective on life and helping to reinforce the values that were instilled in him by his mother. Better yet, Wallace attributes the familial aspect of the Tiger program with shaping him as a man and preparing him for life after football.
“The family I’ve built here,” he said when asked what his biggest takeaway from his Clemson career is. “The brotherhood will last a lifetime. The people in this program have helped me become a man, and they know I love them.”
Wallace has aspirations of working with underprivileged youth in low-income areas and making a significant impact in his hometown. However, Wallace wants to get the most out of the sport that has provided him with the platform to make a difference in the real world.
After graduating in December and finishing this season, he aims to utilize all that he has gleaned from his Tiger experience to pursue an NFL career. Wallace has the utmost confidence that he will be successful in that endeavor, as he is certain that his football success story is far from being finished.
Until then, Wallace plans to do right by the Tiger brotherhood and continue to make waves in the Clemson secondary. A playmaker in every sense of the term, Wallace is constantly adding new chapters to his lengthy success story, and Clemson is, without a doubt, a better team because of it.