A True Big Back

St. Louis prep tailback Ronnie Wingo (6-3, 212) is one of 19 official visitors this weekend to the University of Arkansas and certainly one of the program's priority recruits since he epitomizes what Razorback head coach Bobby Petrino wants in a big back.

Ronnie Wingo has no desire to be anything but a college running back, and he especially doesn't want to line up at tight end.

That's why the four-star recruit was caught off guard when he arrived in San Antonio in late December and saw that he was listed as a tight end for the U.S. Army All-American Game.

Wingo had never played tight end before, and he thought the all-star game was an odd time to take up the position. After all, the St. Louis native is considered one of the nation's top running back prospects for a reason.

"I never really thought about (playing tight end) until I got down there and then everything with my name on it was like, ‘Tight end, tight end,'" Wingo said. "I was like, ‘I guess it's really true.'"

Wingo tried his best playing out of position, but he insists he wants to be a tailback and not a tight end, wide receiver or anything else in college.

Scout.com has the 6-foot-3, 212-pound former prep star rated as the nation's No. 11 running back prospect. And Arkansas' coaches were hoping to sell Wingo during his official visit this weekend on the fact that they could use his running ability in the fall.

Wingo is among several big-name recruits who arrived in Fayetteville on Friday afternoon to take their official visits to Arkansas. And with National Signing Day quickly approaching, it's important for the Razorbacks to use this weekend to make a good impression on the recruits.

"Obviously, if they're looking at us and we're looking at them this late a date, it's obvious that there could be a marriage on the horizon," said Arkansas running backs coach Tim Horton, who also serves as the school's recruiting coordinator.

"A lot of these kids are already committed that are coming to visit. But, at the same time, there are some we're trying to convert."

Horton and Arkansas quarterbacks coach Garrick McGee have been in constant contact with Wingo, who prides himself on being able to make plays with his breakaway speed.

Wingo rushed for 1,482 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior at St. Louis University (Mo.) High, giving him 4,499 yards and 48 touchdowns during his record-breaking prep career. In that span, he shattered 12 single-season or career records and tied three more.

"I never ever played anything beside running back. I played some receiver, but never just strictly a wideout," Wingo said. "So (playing tight end at the U.S. Army All-American Game) was something new — very new."

Not surprisingly, Wingo's running ability has caught the attention of big-time college coaches, specifically in the Southeastern Conference and Big 12.

Arkansas is the third school that Wingo has taken an official visit to following his trips to Kansas and Missouri. He said he plans to use all five of his official visits, saving the remaining two for possibly Alabama, Minnesota or Tennessee.

The Razorbacks no doubt could use some help in the backfield, especially since starter Michael Smith was slowed by injuries toward the end of last season. He'll likely sit out the spring while recovering from a hamstring surgery.

Horton said along with adding some offensive and defensive linemen, Arkansas would like to sign at least one more "speed skill player" — whether it's a running back, wide receiver or defensive back.

And after his time in San Antonio, Wingo has no more plans to line up at tight end.

"I'm playing running back. If a school doesn't want me to play running back, I'm not going." Wingo said, adding that every school he's considering wants him to play tailback. "I'm not playing tight end."





Ronnie Wingo


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