Seamus Wallace experienced success in his high school athletic career at Stonington High, but he would admit he was unable to squeeze every ounce out of his ability because of unkind twists of fate.
As a middle schooler, Wallace was a regional champion wrestler and one of the best football players in the Southern New England Youth Football Conference. But he fell victim to bad breaks in high school.
While it would be inaccurate to label his career a disappointment — he earned All-ECC divisional football status as a defensive end and All-State as a lacrosse defenseman — his Stonington sports experience wasn't completely fulfilling.
Two separate knee injuries robbed Wallace of half of his senior football season in 2015. He didn't compete as a wrestler because Stonington never added wrestling to its sports offerings despite petitioning by the Wallace family to start a program.
"My senior year was definitely tough," Wallace said. "But I had an inner belief to stick to my guns. I believed everything would turn out all right."
If Wallace's high school career fell short of expectations, his college athletic performance at Assumption College has hit every right note.
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Wallace has turned a football walk-on opportunity into a four-year starting punting job and a two-year scholarship at Assumption, a Division II college program in Worcester, Mass. He enters this season as a record-setting punter with two Northeast-10 Conference all-star selections.
Missing most of his senior season at Stonington cost Wallace valuable exposure to recruiters. He did, however, attend punting showcases in the offseason. After he was accepted to Assumption, a school where former Stonington running back standout Zach Wheeler had played tight end a few years prior, Wallace impressed the coaching staff enough to land a walk-on opportunity.
Wallace started as a freshman, averaging 40 yards on 51 punts. His career since has followed a consistent path — he has earned the starting punting job in every game, totaling 149 punts in 35 contests, including 13 during Assumption's run to the Division II national tournament quarterfinals.
He averaged over 40 yards as a sophomore and 37.9 as a junior. Beyond the numbers, Wallace has earned kudos for punting inside the 20-yard line 23 times as a freshman and 20 times as a sophomore, avoiding costly touchbacks that put the ball at the 20.
"I'd say my ability to pin teams deep on their side of the field is my best asset," Wallace said. "I even ran the ball once out of punt formation for a 4-yard gain and a first down."
Wallace has the size and is athletic and strong enough to play linebacker or defensive end, probably at the Division III level. But he's found his niche as a punter and a consistently good one at that. He earned scholarship money for his junior and sophomore years, making him one of the few Stonington grads to play college football on scholarship.
"Specializing on punting has been good for my knee," Wallace said. "Personally, getting a scholarship was a highlight, plus I was named Special Teams Player of the Year for our team."
One of Wallace's highlights was practicing and playing with Cole Tracy, Assumption's record-setting kicker who left the school after three All-America seasons to kick for perennial Division I FBS power LSU. Tracy gained national attention last year when he kicked the winning field goal on opening night to lift the Tigers over Auburn.
"He's a great kicker and a great friend," Wallace said. "He's gotten some NFL tryouts. Plus, LSU was so appreciative of him that some of their alumni sent a $20,000 donation to Assumption football."
Wallace is also excelling academically, including making the dean's list (3.5 GPA or above). He's majoring in criminology with a minor in sociology. He will intern at the Rutland, Mass., police department this fall.
All in all, Wallace is thrilled he has avoided the unfortunate setbacks that hit him in high school.
"I think the disappointments I experienced made me tougher," Wallace said. "But I never stopped pursuing something I was passionate about — punting in college football."