WALNUT • T.J. Colom put together a sensational junior year full of highlights and plenty of touchdowns. Now he’s working to replicate that success in a hopeful senior season.
In his first year at Walnut, after transferring from rival Falkner, Colom amassed 2,305 all-purpose yards and 28 touchdowns to lead the Wildcats to a 9-3 record and a first-round appearance in the Class 2A playoffs.
“He had a tremendous year for us,” said Walnut head coach John Meeks. “It was also the first year he had to play both ways, and that was an adjustment for him. I couldn’t have been more pleased with how he hit the ground running in his first year in our program.”
Colom’s success came with accolades as he was named the Division 1-2A Co-Offensive Player of the Year and the All-Tippah County Offensive Player of the Year in 2019.
“I was proud of myself,” said Colom. “I always feel like I could’ve done more than I did. I didn’t even know that I had 28 touchdowns or how many yards I had until coach Meeks told me like a month or two after the season. I wasn’t really focused on individual goals. I was trying to go as far into the playoffs as we could.”
Like other football players in the state, Colom joined his team for workouts in the beginning of June, but the work to build on last year’s performance began as soon as the buzzer sounded in Walnut’s 23-12 loss to Eupora in the playoffs.
“I’ve been working hard every day and as much as I can,” said Colom. “I’m doing two workouts a day and doing that six or seven days a week. I want to do as much as I can because we don’t know when the season will start, so I’m trying to stay prepared for when that time comes.”
If or when that time comes, Meeks is prepared to use his star player in a variety of roles, including time in the back field, out wide and as the team’s punt and kick returner. Meeks believes Colom’s versatility is a weapon that unlocks the potential of the rest of his offense.
“We are going to try to keep moving him around as much as possible because we know that he will be the focal point of every defense,” said Meeks. “We have to try to find as many different ways to get him the ball, because that opens it up for everybody else as well.”
Colom’s super power on the football field can be easily described as “elusive.” He makes his living making defenders miss.
“I always work on my hips in my workouts,” Colom said. “It helps so much to be able to change directions quickly. I just have the mentality to not let anyone tackle me in the open field.”
Colom’s shiftiness has caught the eyes of college coaches across the country, as he has picked up seven offers from mainly Division III schools and is receiving interest from Division I programs.
The holdback for Colom happens to be his stature.
At 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, the wide receiver battles against the notion that he’s “too small.” But he uses that excuse as motivation on the football field.
“I always say that heart matters more than height,” said Colom. “When people talk about my size, I just use it as fuel because I like proving people wrong.”
With a ton to prove, Colom waits for the final word on when it’s safe to return to competition. Meeks stands in the wait, too, knowing that the 2020 season could be special with a player like Colom on his side.
“I just want us to get started on time and get to playing because these kids deserve to play,” said Meeks. “To see him, knowing the home run capability he has, he makes us coaches look a whole lot better than we are. I hope that we get to see him put together a great senior season because he has put in the work and I think everybody wants to see it pay off.”