Dec. 27, 2011
By Matt Winkeljohn
‘Twas the morning before Christmas Eve, when all through the house just a couple creatures were stirring, chiefly Logan Walls with a big plan dancing in his head.
Conversely, Wallard was nearly worthless. The dog wanted to sleep. He had no interest in going along with a hair-brained scheme to serve as ring-bearer while Georgia Tech’s nose tackle asked for the hand of Kaitlin Byard in marriage.
So forget the dreamy vision of bowser hopping enthusiastically upon the bed with hardware as Byard slept.
That plan went to the dogs. Walls had to do it manually.
“I had the ring box around his collar, turned the light on, and put him on the bed,” Logan said. “I also have a Lhasa Apso, but going in I felt like Wallard would be more dependable.”
Unfortunately, Wallard — whose name is derived from the merger of his shared owners — “is not a big morning person,” Walls said.
So, “I used the bathroom, and was sneaking back upstairs. I had to pick him up. I was expecting him to be my go-to guy. He wasn’t having any of it.”
Predictability has not been a big part of the Walls-Byard union.
She enrolled at Dawsonville High as a senior, when he was a senior football and soccer star. They barely spoke.
He went to Tech. She went to Georgia.
At the end of their first semesters, back in Dawsonville, “we met at a mutual friend’s house,” Byard said. “We were at the christening of a friend’s baby.”
And they’ve been together almost ever since.
There have been times where that’s been, uh, weird.
“I got booed out of my student section. I would wear my (Walls/Tech) buttons, and get booed,” Byard said. “And all my friends gave me crap.”
Obviously, though, it’s gone well.
If you haven’t met Logan Walls, you’ve been short-sheeted.
Big as he is, he comes off quite like Santa Claus yet with coal-black hair and shadow where there ought to be beard. He chuckles a lot, has a kid’s air about him. He treats dogs as people.
Come on, Walls weighs 300 pounds or so, and has a Lhasa Apso and some sort of mixed mutt that, “we think is a Pug, and we think a Jack Russell. He has perfect Pug coloration, long legs, and his nose isn’t smashed in. He has a curled tail, but it’s a little long.”
Wallard, though, apparently does not sense the potential for theater.
No matter. Byard was clueless as well when dog was dumped on the bed in Logan’s family home in Dawsonville on the morning of Dec. 23.
“Honestly, I was so out of it. I was half asleep,” she said. “At first, I thought he was playing a mean joke on me. If it was a watch, I was going to be mad.
“I said, ‘Oh my gosh,’ and jumped out of bed. He got down on one knee and asked. It still really didn’t settle in, but then he said to call my mom, and I said, ‘Why do I need to call my mom?’ He said, ‘Because we’re engaged!'”
That they are, and soon Walls will join Byard in New York City the day after Saturday’s Sun Bowl vs. Utah.
She graduated last spring from UGA with a degree in broadcast news, and is now employed by day through the Teach for America program as a second grade special education teacher in Harlem.
At night, she’s seeking a Master’s degree at Fordham, also in special education.
Walls, who graduated last spring with a degree in business management with a certificate in finance, said, “I’m going to go up to visit her for a couple weeks, come back and start training around Atlanta.”
The goal is to get a look in the NFL.
“I feel like I would do myself a disservice if I didn’t try with all the work that I’ve put in already.”
Prospects of a pro career make the timing of a wedding a little iffy, but it’s going to happen before too terribly long.
“Summer at earliest,” Walls said. “Whenever I get a more solid schedule we’ll have a better idea.”
Byard, who lives in the financial district in Manhattan, will be in the Teach for America program until the summer of 2013.
You just get the feeling this will work out.
“I was definitely nervous. Once I got Wallard on the bed, I was just excited; I don’t even remember,” Walls said. “She said yes, and she was happy because she’s been wanting me to do it forever. Every time a friend would get engaged, I would hear about it.”
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