After transfer, K.J. Wallace ready to earn his opportunity at Georgia Tech

Former Notre Dame safety K.J. Wallace announced his decision to transfer to Georgia Tech on May 1, 2022. (Notre Dame)

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Former Notre Dame safety K.J. Wallace announced his decision to transfer to Georgia Tech on May 1, 2022. (Notre Dame)

K.J. Wallace showed he wasn’t afraid of a challenge in choosing to sign with Notre Dame as a four-star prospect at the Lovett School. He demonstrated his willingness to take on hard work in the way he left, too.

Seeking more playing time after three seasons with the Fighting Irish, Wallace wanted to go into the transfer portal, but would do so only if he could leave South Bend, Ind., with his degree. But his path to his political-science degree in three years required that he take 20 credits in the spring and another nine this summer. That was on top of a summer-school class he’ll take at his new school – Georgia Tech. Wallace will graduate this summer and be eligible to play for the Yellow Jackets this fall as a grad transfer.

“It was a very busy springtime for me,” Wallace said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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Wallace joins a secondary crowded with aspirants seeking the playing time vacated by safeties Juanyeh Thomas, Tariq Carpenter and Wesley Walker and cornerbacks Tre Swilling and Tobias Oliver. There are no fewer than 17 scholarship players in the secondary. Wallace, who made five tackles in 16 games over his three seasons at Notre Dame, said he has no issue with competition.

In his recruitment, “definitely, no one made any promises to me,” Wallace said. “If anything, there’s more of a ‘you’ve got to earn it’ (feeling). You’ve got to do what you’re capable of doing, and that’s really all I was asking for throughout this entire process, is just a real solid opportunity.”

But Tech coach Geoff Collins did have a plan for him.

“The pitch was more, just, we’ve some guys here, we’d love to add to it,” Wallace said. “We want to level up in a couple areas here in the defensive backfield, and we think you can add to that as far as being a safety and playing nickel.”

Wallace went into the portal in January and quickly attracted attention from the likes of Boise State, Old Dominion and Samford. He took an official visit to Old Dominion.

“I loved the coaching staff up there,” Wallace said.

Wallace wanted to make a decision by early May. Tech got involved through new director of scouting Kenyatta Watson in April, Wallace said. Wallace knew plenty about Tech – he had made visits while in high school and had friends in school there.

“So I was like, ‘If it works football-wise, then, yeah, of course,’” Wallace said.

It helped, too, to have friends on the team to provide intel. Wallace said he has known defensive backs Derrik Allen, Khari Gee and Kenyatta Watson (the son of the scouting director) from high school or earlier. Gee also was at Notre Dame, having transferred earlier in the offseason.

“It was more like a friendly type of thing, telling me the real things and what’s really going on,” Wallace said.

That all made choosing Tech an easy decision. He announced his decision to transfer May 1.

“(Old Dominion) was definitely in the mix, but I couldn’t say no to Tech, for real,” Wallace said.