Wheeler Set For Busy June

Central Catholic (Pittsburgh, Pa.) defensive tackle Rashad Wheeler is finishing up final exams, but as soon as they’re over the 6-foot-3, 265-pounder will embark on a string of college visits/camps that will ultimately lead to his college decision, which he’s expecting to make in August.

Central Catholic (Pittsburgh, Pa.) defensive tackle Rashad Wheeler is finishing up final exams, but as soon as they’re over the 6-foot-3, 265-pounder will embark on a string of college visits/camps that will ultimately lead to his college decision, which he’s expecting to make in August. Wheeler recently announced a top three leaderboard of Penn State, Pittsburgh and Maryland, with the Nittany Lions out in front, but he’s since altered that list a bit.

“Right now I would say Pitt is pretty even with Penn State, and that’s just because I had more time to think about things. I called Penn State my leader right after I visited [State College, Pa.], but since then Pitt kind of pulled even after talking to the coaches again and just the fact they’re my hometown team,” said Wheeler, who has tripped to each of the aforementioned three schools “So I really like those two right now, but that doesn’t mean I’m definitely going [to either Pitt or PSU]. Maryland has a real chance to get in there, Wake Forest is still involved, and if Michigan State and Virginia Tech offer they’d be involved too.”

The Pittsburgh product is leaving open the possibility for other suitors, but the in-state schools do hold prime appeal. He’s visited both Pitt and PSU more than any other university and has had the most contact with staffs from each.

“I love the coaching staffs at Pitt and Penn State, and they’re schools I’m really comfortable with,” Wheeler said. “I talk to a coach from each one a couple times each week and they make sure to stay in contact with me. They both really want me and feel I’d fit in well into their defenses.”

Wheeler will be checking out Pitt yet again for a June 5 camp (“the new coaching at Pitt staff just wants to show me the defense and have me work with the defensive line coach,” Wheeler said), followed by a mid- to late-June trek to PSU.

Wheeler, though, insisted Maryland and others are going to get a prime chance to unseat the Pennsylvania programs.

“I love Maryland. Maryland is a great program, a great campus, they’re getting great new facilities, and [the Terps are] really close to [Pitt and PSU],” Wheeler said. “I feel like when I visit there again and really get to know some of the players there, and see what they’re like, that could [elevate] them. The last time I was there [April 4] I didn’t get to talk to any players, and player relationships are pretty important to me, so I’m looking forward to getting back there like June 20 to meet some of the guys. I want to talk to the coaches again and just take another look at the school. But Maryland is a school I like a lot.”

Wheeler said he’s maintained consistent contact with both UMD area recruiter Greg Studrawa and defensive line coach Chad Wilt.

“I love both those guys. Coach Stud, we’re talking more often now and just building a better relationship,” said Wheeler, who noted he’d most likely be an interior lineman in Maryland’s 4-3. “But I’ve actually been talking to Coach Wilt a lot; we talk a couple times each week. [Wilt] is a great coach and one of the defensive line coaches I have the best relationship with. I loved his energy when I went down there for a practice and feel like I could easily play for him. He’s a really personable guy and easy to talk to.”

The two wildcards in this recruitment are MSU and Va Tech. Neither the Spartans nor Hokies have anted up yet, but Wheeler plans to camp at MSU June 13 and Va Tech shortly thereafter to try and cull out scholarships.

“I’d say if Virginia Tech and Michigan State did offer, I’d reorder my [favorites] list and put them right in there with Pitt, Penn State and Maryland,” Wheeler said. “At that point those would be the five schools I’d be looking at.”

There’s a possibility Wake Forest could vault into consideration as well. Wheeler wants to give the Deacons one last look this month since they were one of the first major programs to extend an offer.

“Wake is a great academics school and they’ve been after me forever,” Wheeler said. “It’s a school I definitely want to take a look at.”

One factor that could alter Wheeler’s thinking/college destination is if certain programs either fill up their spots or don’t make a potent push for him. Currently, he said each school he’s looking at has open defensive line spots, but admitted the Nittany Lions’ staff told him those slots could be taken fairly quickly.

“The only school that’s really said not to wait too long [to commit] is Penn State because they’re looking at so many guys,” Wheeler said. “Everyone else has spots and hasn’t really said I have to commit by a certain date.”

Wheeler said he’d ideally like to have his college decision made by August. He said the primary factors he’ll be evaluating during the upcoming trips are player/coach relationships, how much he’s wanted and how comfortable he is on campus.

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