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Because University of Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino and his staff have done such a great job before Christmas, there are really only big fish left in the recruiting pond for the Razorbacks.
One of the biggest is certainly St. Louis University High tailback Ronnie Wingo (6-3, 212, 4.4), who will visit Arkansas on Jan. 9-11.
Razorback assistants Tim Horton and Garrick McGee have been in Wingo’s home twice in the past couple of weeks visiting with a prospect that Scout.com ranks as the 11th-best running back nationally.
“I really have built a great relationship with those guys and so has my family,” Wingo said. “They are both real cool and are about education as well as football. I feel they honestly care about me the person, not just me the football player and my family agrees with that.”
Arkansas is one of the final five schools that still have hope of landing Wingo, who rushed for 1,482 yards and 14 touchdowns this season and also caught 20 passes for 379 yards and 5 more touchdowns.
Wingo finished his high school career with 4,499 yards rushing and 48 touchdowns in 33 high school games while breaking 12 single-season and career school records and tying 3 more.
He has already visited Missouri and Kansas and has visits set to Arkansas (Jan. 9-11), Illinois (Jan. 23-25) and might take a visit to either Alabama or Minnesota on the final weekend of the pre-signing period.
“I’ve visited both Missouri and Kansas and both visits were good,” Wingo said. “But I really know everything about all the schools I need to know even before I go on the visit because I have done my research.
“I will take these visits just to check out things one more time,” Wingo added.
Wingo is preparing to report Sunday to San Antonio for the U.S Army All-American Game, which will be played Saturday, Jan. 3 at noon on NBC.
“It is such an honor for me to be chosen as one of just 90 players that get to play in that game,” Wingo said. “It is going to be fun to see how I match up against the true best talent in the country.”
One thing he made very clear is that those speculating he will make an announcement while at the U.S. Army All-American are way off base.
“I don’t know why there are people saying that because it’s just not truthful,” Wingo said. “I have never said anything about doing that and it’s not going to happen. It kind of makes me a little mad that people are saying that. I am going to take these other visits and then announce my decision. It’s that simple.”
Sheldon Richardson, another Missouri prep standout, had been scheduled to visit Arkansas with Wingo on Jan. 9-11, but ended his recruiting last week and reaffirmed his commitment to Missouri.
“We hadn’t talked in awhile, but he called the other day and said he didn’t want to take any more visits, that he was tired of all the calls and stuff and he was just going to end it now,” Wingo said. “I always thought he was going to end up staying with Missouri.”
Wingo said that he and Richardson had talked some about playing at the same school, but it was always going to be about what was best for both of them individually.
“In the end, it’s got to be what is best for you and you have to make your own decision,” Wingo said. “You have to look at it like this – is this a place I would go to school at even if I wasn’t playing football there?”
Obviously Arkansas – where Wingo and his dad visited this summer – hopes it is the last school left standing.
“Arkansas has done so much to make me feel wanted both as a football player and as a person,” Wingo said. “It’s a beautiful campus with great coaches.
“They have stressed to me how they really, really need a big back like to me to take their offense where they need to go,” Wingo added. “They feel like they have everything else to be one of the nation’s elite teams in the next few years.”