Camp Keepers will be a new article I came out with which will interview an NFL player in a Mini Camp who is part of the 90 man roster right now, and ask him about some of the things he has experienced so far. It will also take you back to draft day and let you feel what they were feeling, when they either received the call or didn't. At the end of the interview, you will be asked a question, that is Will he be a Camp Keeper? That means does he make the roster, Yes, No, or Practice Squad. Let's see what the fans think of these players, I hope you enjoy the first part on Rico Wallace.
Last year I did interviews with players before the draft, and many of those players I did interviews with are in the NFL as we speak today. Rico Wallace is a player that I have been extremely high on this past season, because I saw something special about the 6’3, 215 pound wide out from Shenandoah University. After a great senior year, and a huge showing at the Beyond Sports Network's Showcase in Akron, Ohio, Rico was able to catch the eyes of several scouts. During the draft, Rico Wallace was called by numerous teams, but decided to go with the Panthers. Let’s now ask Rico some questions, about the Draft and his first ever OTA’s in Carolina.
Take us back to draft day, what were you doing when you got the phone call letting you know, you were going to be a Panther?
I was with my family and we were watching the draft. They cut the television volume down when the phone rang. When I answered the phone it was the Panthers Regional Scout. The team had been talking with my agent Ryan Earls as well. After the draft I talked with the Regional Scout of the Panthers again who then put the Offensive Coordinator on the phone with me, it was a great experience.
What has been the biggest change so far from D3 to the Panthers?
I would say the speed and competition level, you have to pick things up quickly. As soon as we were hit the facility we were given the playbook. I didn’t have to just memorize the plays I had to be able to go out and execute them as well.
I have heard that you have been making some pretty amazing catches in camp, can you believe you are finally living your dream?
I have on and off days about it, I have days I can’t believe I am here, but then there are days that I know that I deserve to be here. It truly is a great experience, the fans are great here.
Who was the first person you signed an autograph for in a Carolina Panthers uniform, and what did you sign?
The first thing I signed was Thursday on the open practice, there was a little kid that had a football. I signed it for him, it was a great feeling. I signed a ton of autographs that day for the fans.
Do you feel you are getting a good grasp of the NFL Playbook and terminology?
Yeah, I am getting really good on the understanding of the playbook; I believe I know the entire Offense that they have installed so far. I feel I have a good grasp.
What is it like to be in a locker room with Cam Newton, and Steve Smith?
It’s crazy, I have always liked the Panthers Uniforms and remember playing the video game and watching them on television. They are definitely two players that I look up to on this team.
Has there been any players that have kind of guided you so far in the OTA’s?
I would say a couple of the veteran wide receivers have helped. You can learn a lot by just watching them, go through their plays and routes.
Do you feel you have something to prove since you were an UDFA?
To a certain extent yes, but I feel that the organization will pick the best players for their team, whether they are drafted or undrafted.
Where have you been lining up on the field, and are you playing special teams as well?
I have been playing X and Z receiver, and I have played on Kick Off, Kick Return, Punt Return and Punt coverage’s.
Have you been pretty sore after the workouts, is it a lot more work than what you are use too?
I have been a little sore, but they have a great facility here. When you have a facility that is top notch, it is easier to get healthier quicker.
Who is the toughest Corner back you have had to go up against so far in camp?
I would say Josh Norman, the rookie corner back from Coastal Carolina, he is so competitive. As a rookie, he is doing really great and is tough to go up against.
What player do you see as the vocal leader on the Carolina Offense, who is the guy that is getting people ready so far in camp?
I would say it is a mix of players; both Cam Newton and Greg Olsen are two guys that always have some encouraging words for the guys in the huddle.
I know before in an article we did, you told me your brothers were trying to guess where you would go, Did any of them get it right in Carolina?
They all got it wrong, they wanted me to play for their favorite teams, but when Carolina began showing interest they all had a good feeling I would be a Panther. They are all happy that I am on the Panthers.
I have saw your fellow Shenandoah teammates already buying shoes to match the Carolina Jersey, how does that make you feel?
It really makes me happy to know that I have a good fan base; it is really motivation to keep going. It really pumps me up they have been great at Shenandoah, back home and here in Carolina.
Is there anyone you would like to thank for helping you develop the way you did, throughout college?
I would say all my coaches, because they all had a piece of advice that stuck with me. I would like to thank all my coaches at Shenandoah and even my brothers for giving me advice in life because everything plays a part at the end.
Right now we can assume that 3 of the Panthers wide receivers will be there for sure, in Steve Smith, Joe Adams, and Brandon Lafell. Armanti Edwards, Kealoha Pilares, David Gettis, Seyi Ajirotutu, Hubert Anyiam, Darvin Adams, Lamont Bryant, Michael Avila, Jared Green and Brenton Bersin are all players Rico will be competing against. Do you think he can beat them out?
Rico, I am sure the Carolina Panther fans, are taking a liking to you, the same way I did when I saw your film. I hope you have a great camp and wish you the best of luck throughout the rest of the preseason. I have a feeling you will be in Carolina Blue for a while, good luck.
Make sure you follow Rico on twitter @RICO_WALLACE and show him some love Carolina fans.