In his weekly recruiting column, Dudley E. Dawson chats with Florida prep wideout Marquel Wade (5-11, 180, 4.42), who will be one of three players taking official visits to the University of Arkansas this weekend.
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The Razorbacks are on the hunt for another speedster in their 2010 recruiting class and will get the chance to host one of the nation’s best wide receivers and punt returners this weekend.
Jacksonville (Fla.) Andrew Jackson High standout Marquel Wade (5-11, 180, 4.42) is taking his official visit to the University of Arkansas this weekend.
He joins UA linebacker commit Chris Smith (6-2, 230) of West Rowan, N.C. and linebacker and Andrew Jackson teammate Montague Mack in making official visits.
“I am really looking forward to getting up there and checking it out this weekend,” Wade said Tuesday. “I love the their offense and like the way their coaches play freshmen if they are ready to come in and help right away.”
Wade, whose 8-0 team has a bye this weekend and thus he can arrive in Fayetteville on Friday instead of Saturday, is especially high on Arkansas receiver coach and offensive coordinator Paul Petrino.
“He’s a great guy,” Wade said. “I really like and trust him. In fact I have told him he is like my mentor from afar. I try to call him about every day. I really trust him and respect him and know that he will be honest with me and take care of me up there. He tells me I can play early for them and I believe that. I also talk to the quarterbacks coach (Garrick McGee) and they talk about how they are going to use me and that has me very excited. They also tell me their system would be the best in getting me prepared for a shot in the NFL.”
There are two other big reasons that Arkansas is high up on his list of a player who has caught 40 passes for 355 yards and 7 TDs and returned 8 punts for over 400 yards – including 5 for scores.
“Arkansas coaches talk more to me about education than any of the other schools and that really stands out to me – really stands out,” Wade said. “It lets me know they care more about me than just coming up there to play football.
“Also Arkansas is in the SEC and I want to play in the SEC because that is where the best teams and the best players are,” Wade added. “I want to play against the best.”
He also likes what he has seen from Arkansas starting quarterback Ryan Mallett.
“I like the way he spreads the ball around to so many receivers and how he has the arm to go deep and make big plays,” Wade said. “I think it would be pretty fun to catch passes from him and I am looking forward to seeing him and the team in action this weekend.”
Wade has caught some games on TV this season including Arkansas’ 23-20 loss at Florida.
“I think Arkansas played a great game and should have won it, but the refs took it from them,” Wade said. “I really do think that is what happened.”
Wade, whose team is off to an 8-0 start this season, has his decision down to a final five of Arkansas, South Carolina, Georgia, South Florida and Ole Miss.
That is culled down from over 20 offers that also include Miami, Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Louisville, Maryland, Middle Tennessee State, Illinois, East Carolina, Cincinnati, Indiana and UAB.
In addition to this weekend’s visit to Arkansas, he has ones set up to South Carolina on Nov. 13-15 and South Florida on Nov. 20-22.
He would like to make a decision before his basketball season starts.
“I am just trying to get around and see everything and make the best decision for myself,” Wade said. “I wanted to get to Arkansas first and check that out.”
Wade, whose team downed Forest 42-7 last Friday to stay unbeaten, has certainly showed his versatility this season.
In addition to his receptions and punt returns for touchdowns, he also has had an 88-yard interception return and a rushing score both called back due to penalties.
“I have had a great season so far on offense, defense and returning punts,” Wade said. “Things are going really well for the team and for me.”
He has certainly showed his ability to be a playmaker.
“I think my strengths are catching the football, my speed and my ability to make people miss me in the open field,” Wade said. “I am working on becoming a better blocker. I want to make sure when it is just me and the running back and one defender that I get him out of the way. I know how important that is especially in college.”