Be sure to hold the beef and pork during the pregame meal. For Stephen F. Austin’s Marlon Walls every week before a game his intake consists of chicken breasts, green beans and mashed potatoes.
When Walls was little his father Marlon Sr. took a college course in which he learned the potential ill effects beef and pork can have on the body. Ever since then the Walls’ freezer, and stomachs, has been bereft of such food groups.
“My father came to a mutual agreement with my mother to stop eating beef and pork altogether,” said Walls, a junior safety. “I have not eaten a hamburger, bacon or steak since I was like four years old.”
Actually, Walls has his share of burgers and bacon – of the turkey variety. Speaking of turkey, he consumes plenty of it along with chicken and a bevy of fruit.
“It is very normal to me and I don’t even consider it a diet,” he said.
It must be working because the 5-10 and 196-pound does not want for energy. That includes the mental variety as the engineering physics major keeps his mind as sharp as his body is chiseled.
“I believe if you are eating right and your body is responding you can keep a focused mind,” he said. “If your body and mind are functioning correctly it just makes everything that much smoother.”
It has been smooth sailing in the classroom for Walls. Among other honors he has earned was being a CoSIDA Academic All-District first team selection a year ago. Earlier this year, following the spring semester, he was the recipient of an award handed out by SFA’s physics department that goes to a student who is “registered for Technical Physics II and is based on overall GPA, physics GPA and progress in the physics major program.”
While those requirements might be prove daunting to many, with a GPA of 4.0 through his first two years at SFA it is safe to suggest Walls is making much progress.
“My dad told me that when you go to school you make sure you get your degree first and foremost because you never know what that could do for you,” he said. “Make sure you take care of the academic side of things and everything else will pretty much take care of itself. It is very rewarding to be recognized for doing what I came here to do.”
Part of what he is doing at SFA is breezing through classes such as engineering dynamics and differential equations. Those are terms that are not found when it comes to defending against a spread offense, but are otherwise part of his Walls’ day at the Nacogdoches, Texas, campus.
“It is a course where you see real world applications of physics,” Walls said of engineering dynamics. “It really taught me a lot and that has been my most challenging course thus far. I really enjoyed that class and it really taught me quite a bit.”
Walls has followed in his father’s footsteps not just when it comes to proper culinary intake, but the senior Walls is a chemical operator for Shell Oil and was previously with DuPont.
“He is definitely a math and science guy, too,” he said. “During my high school career I was taking construction type courses and I found myself liking to work with my hands a lot. I also liked math and science and saw engineering as a pretty good fit.”
In the third grade Walls so much enjoyed doing multiplication tables that he would compete with one other student in getting them done.
“I was always racing to not only finish first, but to get them all right,” he recalled. “I was always competing with another guy in my class. We would be done in like three minutes and everybody else would take like 10 or 15 minutes.”
Completing everything he needs to and balancing his time is a little more challenging these days. It is challenge Walls has met with aplomb.
“It definitely takes a lot of time and effort,” he said of his academic and football time demands. “Being a student-athlete you have to be really good at balancing your time and to be able to schedule things accordingly because everybody wants some of your time and you only have 24 hours in a day like everybody else. So you really have to be on top of your game in order to excel on the field as well as off the field.”
Walls and the Lumberjacks (3-2, 2-1 Southland) take the field at Nicholls State (1-3, 1-1), which nearly knocked off Georgia in the season opener. The game, Saturday on ASN, follows SFA’s 63-28 loss to No. 2 Sam Houston State. The setback snapped a three-game win streak.
“We need to build on the positives and correct the negatives,” said Walls, who has 24 tackles and has broken up three passes. “We have to learn from our mistakes of last Saturday.”
Above: Photo courtesy Hardy Meredith
Middle: Courtesy SFA Physics Department