Usually Mama is the first to know everything. But not in Yvonne Sebastian’s case. Not this time anyway.
“I still don’t know,” Avery Walls‘ mother insisted just minutes before he was to announce his college choice in front of a small assembly at Eagles Landing Christian Academy Tuesday morning. “He was supposed to tell me at 7:30 this morning but he ended up rushing out the door to get an 8 o’clock final exam without telling me. I’m as eager as everybody else to find out where he’s going.”
Ms. Sebastian at least got a few minutes heads up. Walls emerged from his English exam — his last test as a graduating high school senior — and whispered his choice to her and ELCA head football coach Jonathan Gess. A few minutes later, after faking a reach for a Michigan cap and picking up and dropping an Oregon cap, Walls donned the one with the logo of the California Bears.
“Life is about taking chances and improving myself with the blessings that come each day from God,” Walls told the gathering in the commons at ELCA. “As this next chance presented itself to me, I was blessed to have been accepted to Michigan, California and Oregon. Now I’m going to take my talents on the football field to . . . I’m going to Cal.”
With those words, Walls put an exclamation point on a truly momentous day. Not only was he locking down a full scholarship to a Pac-10 school, but he had also completed his final credits for high school graduation. He’ll be heading to Berkley as an early enrollee, reporting to the Cal campus on Jan. 12.
“It’s a big decision off my shoulders,” said Walls, who compiled an incredible 33 scholarship offers including several from ACC and SEC schools. “I was blessed with a lot of opportunities. But that also made it a difficult choice to make.”
In the end, Walls said, it came down to academics.
“I wanted a degree that was going to last a lifetime,” he said. “That was the case with all my finalists.”
Walls never received a scholarship offer from Georgia or Georgia Tech. But he and his mother always favored going away to college. She felt it was the best way for a young man to grow and mature and find himself. He liked the idea of discovering new people and places.
“It’s a long way from home, but the coaches and teammates I’ve met there are going to be my family,” Walls said. “And my mom is going to fly out for all the home games.”
He didn’t have to go quite so far away. Among his closer-to-home offers were Auburn, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
Pac-10 football, though, was very appealing to Walls, who will play strong safety for the Bears.
“It’s really back to work now,” said Walls, who will play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Jan. 8 in San Antonio and the USA Against the World All-Star Game Feb. 2 in Austin. “I know where I’m going now and now I have to prepare for it. They play great football in the Pac-10. It’s a great league for DBs and I’m looking forward to the competition.”
Walls transferred to Class A ELCA this summer after spending the previous two seasons Class AAAAA Union Grove the previous two seasons and helped lead the Chargers (12-1) to their best season in history. He finished with 55 tackles and two interceptions and also had 450 yards and nine touchdowns as a part-time running back. He also returned kicks.
“It’s has been one of the funnest years in my life, not only in football but in school,” said Walls, who closed out his academic career with 6 A’s and one B. “I almost wish I had one more year.”
Instead, Walls was left with one single day. But man was it a big one!
College Recruiting By Chip Towers