Jonathan Wallace is a leader on and off the field at Auburn
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Jonathan Wallace says he didn't stumble on doing good deeds, of being a team leader, of being a good guy.
"The big part is my upbringing," Wallace said. "My parents have always been there. They've been there for me and taught me how to serve others. It's truly a blessing to have that type of structure and to have that kind of support at home."
Jonathan Wallace, an Auburn receiver, emergency quarterback, team captain, and student teacher at an elementary school, was recognized Tuesday as one of 11 national Division I winners on the Allstate American Football Coaches Association Good Works team for service to the community. His honor includes a trip to participate in a community service project in conjunction with the Sugar Bowl where he'd be recognized with the other winners.
But Wallace doesn't have to travel to New Orleans for others to know his good work. He is involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, spoken to church groups, volunteered at the Auburn/Opelika Boys and Girls Clubs and visits kids battling illnesses.
"Jonathan is the epitome of what an Auburn man represents," said offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee. "He has such a heart for others and is always giving of his time to serve others on campus and in our community."
Wallace said reaching out to others comes naturally, and that he was surprised it would lead to national recognition.
"I was talking to my family about it. I'm so blessed that I've received an award like this," he said. "It's totally unexpected. I think God and my family and friends for the support they've given me. I remember my teachers and mentors have played a big factor in my life, raising me to the person I am today.
"It's something I've always wanted to do, to give back to the kids and the community and to the people who showed me how to serve people.
"It's something that I have truly enjoyed doing, whether it's the FCA, the Boys and Girls Clubs or whether it's a FCA camp or local camp that people want me to speak at and be a role model for young people and show them there are other people who care."
Wallace is teaching kindergarten through second grade at Cary Woods Elementary in Auburn. Soon, he'll be at Auburn Junior High.
"It's a blast. I tell the teachers it's a new adventure every day," Wallace said. "It's worth because of those kids. They soak it all up. The least I can do is to be there for them and help teach them the right things, that you're going to make mistakes, you can learn from them.
"I'm truly motivated and excited to spend half of my day with those kids before engaging the day with football. It's really a blast."
Wallace started four games at quarterback in 2012. Eventually, he was moved to receiver. Others have grabbed the headlines on Saturday. But it is Wallace and defensive lineman Carl Lawson who are the team captains for Auburn.
"It's not something that I'd usually be chosen for because most team captains are guys on the field all the time, making the big plays. This is a truly honor to be chosen a team captain by our coaches and team members," he said. "It goes to show your hard work, dedication and commitment to your team through rough times and great times matter. That's what I had growing up: People supporting me and helping me in my life. I was able to reflect on that growing up. You lead by example."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine