It’s not his preference, yet becoming patient and learning to wait are traits Tanner Wall has reluctantly accepted, while diligently continuing to prepare for the opportunity he wants.
The 2018 Yorktown High School graduate and 2017 Sun Gazette Player of Year in prep football on offense and defense is biding his time, eventually wanting to be a starter at the highest level of college football. Right now, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Wall is staying in shape and working out with trainers as a grayshirt with the Division I Brigham Young University (BYU) football team.
A grayshirt is when a team offers a player enrollment at the start of the second semester. The student attends classes during the first semester as a part-time enrollee without starting the athletic-eligibility clock. Wall hopes to officially join the BYU program in January as a wide receiver or defensive back.
“I’ve never been stronger and faster,” Wall said in a recent interview. “I am doing everything possible to be ready for an opportunity.”
Wall’s situation with BYU is complicated. He accepted a walk-on offer from the Utah college while at Yorktown, but after graduation he first had to serve a two-year mission in Brazil with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Once that was completed in March (shortened three months because of the COVID-19 pandemic), Wall’s circumstance changed a bit at BYU. With missions also cut short for many other incoming players, then the NCAA granting extended eligibility because of COVID, the team suddenly had an influx of football players in its program.
Wall is hopeful he can officially join the Brigham Young team in January and be on the field for the 2021 season. He has been driven and preparing for that chance, even while on mission work – making homemade workout equipment to stay in shape and putting on weight and getting stronger. He worked out every day.
Now at BYU, he’s increased his vertical leap to an impressive mark of 38 inches, the same height as the late NBA great Kobe Bryant.
“There is something enjoyable about the chase of getting prepared. I like that role,” the business major said.
Also a standout baseball player at Yorktown, Wall was recruited by BYU as a wide receiver. The majority of those coaches (including the wide receivers coach) have moved on.
“I really think Tanner has a shot to play there,” said Bruce Hanson, Wall’s head football coach at Yorktown. “He has the size now, he has good speed at that level, and he catches everything thrown his way.”
Wall was a standout wide receiver at Yorktown, as well as excelling at quarterback and defensive back. He also returned kicks. His preference is to eventually be a defensive back in college, if that opportunity develops.
“I would love to play defensive back, but mainly I just want to play,” Wall said.
Added Hanson: “Everything is so precise about Tanner’s game, and his technical skills are all very outstanding.”
NOTE: Wall is the only player chosen in the same season as the Sun Gazette’s Player of the Year on offense and defense since the paper has been bestowing such awards.