Going into his sophomore season at Georgia Tech, he’s now the one running toward defensive players as a wide receiver.
“I don’t know if I can ever be fully acclimated,” Waller said of the adjustment. “There’s something for me to learn because I’m not really a natural at this position. But I feel like I am getting a lot more comfortable. I’m kind of finding that I’m getting to a point where I don’t have to think about everything, like thinking about how to get to this yard mark or how to setup this corner. It’s coming more naturally through the 7-on-7s. I can feel it now, and it feels good.”
With former Georgia Tech standout Stephen Hill gone to the NFL as a second-round pick of the New York Jets, Waller has a chance to be among a bevy of potential wideouts to earn starting time for the Yellow Jackets this fall.
No wide receiver on Georgia Tech’s roster has a career reception, and that’s something that Waller is clearly looking to change this season.
In his bid to work into the Yellow Jackets’ rotation of receivers, Waller often spoke to Hill, tapping his brain on what to expect.
“Basically, little things like how to approach the season,” Waller said of his conversations with Hill. “You have to get your mind right, don’t get overconfident and don’t be thinking less of yourself. Just have an even keel, and don’t let things get to your head, and keep the team first. You’re not always going to get as many passes as you want, but the offense is proven to work and we want to win. So, we’re buying into it and doing what we can to win.”
Standing 6 feet, 5 inches, Waller — the Yellow Jackets’ tallest skill player, with fellow receiver Marty Alcala — already has a distinct advantage on his competition. But more than just his height, Waller has a familiarity with how the defenses work from playing on the other side of the ball before.
He also spent the last year studying Georgia Tech’s offensive system — Waller played all 12 games as a backup receiver and a part of special teams — and he’s able to use that to his advantage as well.
“You kind of know how corners work because, in high school, I was putting guys in the positions they needed to be in,” Waller said. “I know what they’re thinking on the field, so I kind of have an idea of what a safety is going to do in a different cover-2 situation, or how a corner tries to bait you with his eyes and try to fake a jam and back off. Playing defensive back helped.”
If Waller does get his hands on the ball this fall, then there may be a kinship that he can share with some of his teammates.
In some practice, there have been occasions where the reps have had an all-Cobb feel to them. Former Kennesaw Mountain standout Jay Finch starts at center, Hillgrove’s Synjyn Days has been taking snaps both at A-back and quarterback, and Harrison’s Robbie Godhigh is competing for playing time at A-back.
“It’ll be Jay snapping the ball to Synjyn,” Waller envisioned. “Synjyn will fake a handoff to Robbie and throw it to me. We always go crazy when it’s a bunch of us making plays together. … We’re always out representing, so (our teammates) never forget that we’re the ones out there making plays.”