A change in direction; Austin grad Corey Waller signs on to play at RCTC

Published 8:18 pm Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Sometimes a simple set of circumstances can make a big difference, just ask Austin grad Corey Waller. The 2017 Austin High School grad had all but given up on his hopes of playing college football this summer when a text message from one of his former Austin coaches changed his direction completely.

Waller was all set to attend Riverland Community College this fall and he had signed up to help as an assistant coach with the Austin High School football team when he finally got his chance. Waller had just finished his Sunday night shift at Hy-Vee at 10 p.m. when he noticed he had received a text from Austin assistant coach Mark Winkels, telling him to call Rochester Community and Technical College defensive coordinator Derrick Hintz, who had once coached Winkels at RCTC.

Waller quickly called Hintz and found out that he had a chance to compete with the Yellowjackets if he wanted to. He had 12 hours to make a decision and after a lot of thought, Waller made the choice to play football at RCTC this fall.

Austin grad Corey Waller stands during the national anthem at a game in Art Hass Stadium last fall. Waller will now play football at RCTC. Herald File Photo

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“I knew I didn’t have much time and there was a lot going through my head. All summer I thought my football career was done and in a ten minute conversation it all changed,” Waller said. “It was life changing for me and I was really emotional. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime. I love football and I had to do it.”

Winkels, who is originally from Illinois, had played under Hintz at RCTC in the 1995 and 1999 football seasons. Winkels had talked to Waller about playing college football back in May, but no opportunities had come up at the time. When Winkels found out that Hintz had returned to RCTC, he immediately checked with Hintz to see if Waller would fit in with the team.

Winkels said he’s excited to see what Waller can do now that he has a chance to play at the next level.

“I’m very happy for Corey. He’s not going to have any regrets and I think he’ll do well there,” Winkels said. “He’s just dedicated to doing the best he can. He’s never going to quit and he’s going to give you everything he has.”

Waller was thankful for the fact that Winkels stepped up for him and set up the phone call with Hintz.

“He was a firm believer in me and he offered his support,” Waller said of Winkels. “It’s an opportunity that a lot of kids don’t get.”

Waller had to learn the RCTC play-book quickly and now he’s been practicing on a daily basis with the team. He’s been working with the linebackers and he’s trying to keep up with his new teammates, while also getting to know them.

“There’s a lot of competition and there’s a lot of guys I recognize who I played against in high school. Now they’re my teammates,” Waller said. “There’s a lot of talent here. Some people think that RCTC is low level, but they’re well known for football. It’s a huge honor for me to be here and that’s what’s keeping me going.”

Hayfield grad Lane Canny is also a member of the RCTC football team.

RCTC will play at Northland Community and Technical College Sept. 2 at 3 p.m. to open the season.