Golden Norseman

In his weekly recruiting column for Hawgs Illustrated and The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, Dudley E. Dawson catches up with NEO defensive end Chris Wade (6-5, 255), who has Arkansas atop his list and is working on several teammates. This story is sponsored by the Arkansas Toyota Dealers. It's free and so is a special offer to attend a Razorback event on the Arkansas Toyota Dealers website.

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MIAMI, Okla. - We all know there is not a defensive end currently on the University of Arkansas campus that looks the part of a big-time SEC one - you know the kind that is a lock to go on to star in the NFL.

But there could be one here next season because Northeastern Oklahoma A&M junior college star Chris Wade certainly fits the bill.

Wade (6-6, 255, 4.7), a former Oklahoma prep star at Broken Arrow who is being recruited by UA assistant Bobby Allen, is that rare blend of size and speed that we certainly haven't seen on the edge for the Razorbacks in awhile.

He's pretty certain that is what he wants to be doing next season after finishing up with a NEO defense that is currently ranked fourth in the nation and total defense and allowing just 33.8 yards rushing per game.

"Arkansas is my number one choice right now without a doubt," Wade said. "They are at the top of my list and there is no one up there with them. They have told me I am their number one prospect at defensive end and I have made it clear to them they are my number one as well."

Not that the other schools are just going to hand over Wade, who signed with Missouri as a 220-pounder out of high school and also has offers from Kansas State, Arizona State Nebraska and Baylor.

"I'm certainly letting the other schools continue to recruit me, but I really can't see anything right now that would knock Arkansas off of the top of my list," Wade said. "I just really like all their coaches, their facilities and the opportunity I would have to come in and make an impact right away."

Wade, who had five tackles and four quarterback hurries in NEO's 29-26 win over visiting Cisco Saturday, said Missouri is not happy about him reopening his recruiting.

That's no doubt in part because he has grown from a skinny 230 freshman last season to a muscle-bound 255 this season.

"Arkansas recruited me the first time so this isn't just something out of the blue," Wade said. "I sit down with my parents and we talked about Missouri. I told them (Missouri) that I wanted to open things back up and see what other opportunities that there were for me. They didn't take it so well, but they are still recruiting me. I just think Arkansas is the best situation for me right now."

Wade also feels that the junior college route turned out to be the right move for him, even if that wasn't what he wanted coming out of high school.

"I am kind of glad I didn't go straight off to D-1 because I was not ready back then," Wade said. "I came here to junior college and the game was a lot more faster than high school, there was a lot more talent and that forced me to raise my game and improve my work habits. That is something that I have done."

Arkansas also has Wade - who will be a May graduate - doing a little recruiting of his own since the Razorback staff is also involved with three other current Golden Norse.

They are offensive lineman Lee Tibbs (6-5, 300), defensive tackle Chris Todd (6-2, 280) and defensive end Tim Johnson (6-5, 270), an OU commit but one that is planning to visit Arkansas.

Both Johnson and Todd were injured early in the season and are redshirting with Johnson being told he will still have four to play four and Todd also having three years to play at his next stop.

"They are also having me talk to some of these other guys and hoping to get them to come with me," Wade said. "I'm at least going to get them down there for a visit. I've told them what great facilities they have. They may be down a little bit this season, but they have the players coming and the coaching staff to get it turned around quickly."

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Arkansas coaches were also known to have visited several other junior college prospects late last week, including safety John West (6-2, 190, 4.4) of North Dakota State College of Science.

They also took visits to see the Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College duo of wideout Devin Thomas (6-2, 212) and linebacker Jayden Everett (6-2, 205) and are also recruiting the Fort Scott (Kan.) CC quartet of wideout Cedric Houston (6-1, 190, 4.3), cornerback Sedale Truett (6-4, 200), safety Chris Pollard (6-2, 205) and and defensive end Robert Jackson (6-3, 265).

Thomas had 3 catches for 29 yards and punt returns of 50 and 41 yards in Coffeyville's 49-0 rout of Fort Scott that was suspended for 30 minutes because of a thunderstorm and then played with a running clock in the second half.

Thomas has 21 catches for 426 yards this season, an average of over 20 yards per catch.

Houston - who has Arkansas as his unquestioned leader - has 27 catches for over 400 yards and four touchdowns this season while Truett has picked off four passes.

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