Carolina Panther Wesley Walls got the crowd revved-up with talk about the Super bowl. He was on his way to New Orleans for the big game, when he was asked to speak to the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders at North Woolmarket Middle School.
As expected, Walls focused on the game he knows well. He's logged 13 years on the gridiron, playing for Ole Miss, the San Francisco 49rs, the New Orleans Saints and now, the Panthers. But talking to students puts the famous tight end in an unfamiliar huddle.
Walls says he's more nervous about talking to the kids than about playing a football game. But, he says it's fun and he enjoys it. Walls told the students why they should care for other people, just like football players care about each other as a team. He also stressed the importance of respect, academics and making the right choices.
Walls then shared his story about growing up in Pontotoc, Mississippi, and compared football to life. Walls says some of the things he has learned while playing football are relationships. Making decisions about friends and choosing the people you hang out with, can shape your life and determine what kind of person you're going to be.
He also tackled other topics in building better character, like caring for others, working hard in school and accepting failure. Walls says anybody can have fun when you're winning, but you have to learn the lessons when you're losing too.
The students seemed to like Wall's winning game plan. 8th grader Elizabeth Bosarge says she was impressed with what he said about his team losing all those games and he never gave up. He keeps on trying to play better.
Sixth grader Davey Yennie says it was pretty cool for him to come all the way to Woolmarket to his school. He never thought he'd see a football player. Davey says Walls sounded like a nice man, who is a nice role model for kids.
Walls ended his speech by encouraging the students to give 100% in all they do. He says if anybody tells you that you can't do it, believe in yourself because you can. Walls also told the students that as a young man, he spent more time in the classroom than on the football field. He was salutatorian in the 8th grade, and valedictorian of his high school.