Chris Wells Discusses Early Verbal

Akron Garfield running back Chris Wells is the No. 1-ranked junior in the state of Ohio and recently became the first verbal commitment of Ohio State's 2006 recruiting class. caught up with Wells for his thoughts on becoming a Buckeye.

Akron Garfield running back Chris Wells could have kept everyone on the edges of their seats until next February. He could've had coaches from across the nation telling him he was their No. 1 target. Recruiting experts would have been guessing which school would be lucky enough to land him.

But when something feels right, why wait?

Wells ended the suspense surprisingly early last Sunday (Feb. 6) when he gave his verbal commitment to Ohio State. He chose the Buckeyes over Michigan and Oklahoma.

"I picked Ohio State just because I like the environment down there," Wells said. "I just like the whole feel of the community and the coaches. Everyone was nice down there and I just liked the whole situation.

"And I also liked the running backs situation, and again that they didn't get Jason Gwaltney. That played a big role also in me going to Ohio State because he was a big back like I was. I mean, two big backs going to the same school to try to play wouldn't mix that well. I mean, I just liked it a lot down there."

The 6-1, 228-pound Wells rushed for 1,939 yards and 21 touchdowns as a junior in 2004 (see game by game stats below). He averaged 9.1 yards per carry and established himself as one of the top prospects in the nation and the No. 1 junior in Ohio.

Garfield finished 8-3, including a 27-21 loss to Copley in the first round of the Division II state playoffs. Wells erupted for 237 yards and two scores on 22 carries in his lone postseason game.

"For the most part, I was satisfied (with the season)," Wells said. "But obviously I felt that there were a couple games that we could have just gave it that extra hump and I could have stayed in the game a play longer and we could have won the game.

"Looking at our playoff game, on a fourth-and-1 situation, I got pulled out of the game due to cramping up. And I feel if I could have just been in there we could have gotten that first down. Even if I didn't get the ball, I could have been the decoy or something. So, I kind of take the blame for that first playoff loss."

As a senior, Wells wants his team to do well. He's not as concerned with the personal accolades.

"Mr. Football, I mean, that really isn't a goal, but I would love to have it," he said. "But our main goal is for my team to go 10-0 during the regular season and just for us to have a good team effort this year, better than last year, and me be a leader out there on the field."

For those that don't know, Wells goes by the nickname of "Beanie."

"I got the nickname because when I was a baby, I came out and my big brother said I had a bean head," Wells said with a laugh.

Wells is a future Buckeye, but he grew up rooting for their archrival.

"Actually I was a Michigan fan growing up," he said. "I just loved Michigan because I had a cousin that played for Michigan back in the 70's and I just always grew up liking Michigan just knowing that he played for them.

"Just this last year (I stopped rooting for Michigan). I just found myself rooting for Ohio State because they had hometown favorites like Antonio Pittman and Sian Cotton, and I just found myself rooting for Ohio State."

Wells has a similar build as former OSU tailback Jonathan Wells. In fact, Jonathan Wells, who now plays for the Houston Texans, was also 6-1, 228 when he was at OSU. But Chris Wells is a different kind of player. Maybe a Jonathan Wells with more athletic ability.

"I can catch the ball, I have good vision and I'm a cutback runner," Chris Wells said. "I'm an upfield power runner. I'll run you over if I have to, but I'd rather get around you."

Wells is the Justin Zwick of the 2006 class. He is the assistant recruiting coordinator.

"Oh yeah, I'm talking to guys already," Wells said. "I've talked to Ray Smalls and Aaron Brown of Cincinnati. I'm trying to get those guys to commit to Ohio State also."

Wells looks and acts very mature for his age. It's hard to believe that he's only 16.

"Yeah, I am pretty young," he said. "I'll be 17 on Aug. 7 and that's only a couple weeks before the season. But it really doesn't play a big role, because I'm real mature and I have to be a leader out there on the field. So I just try and take advantage of that. People think I'm so young and I might be immature, but I'm really not. I just go out there and do what I do."

Despite his age, Wells will graduate high school early and will enroll at Ohio State in time to participate in spring practice of 2006.

"Yes, I'll be going down there early for spring quarter and spring ball," he said. "I won't be 18 until a couple weeks before the Ohio State season starts."

One thing Wells will miss about high school is playing linebacker. He likes to hit running backs almost as much as he enjoys running the ball.

"I love to play linebacker," he said.

A big reason Wells committed so early was OSU head coach Jim Tressel.

"Coach Tressel, he's the best coach I've met so far," Wells said. "Just his personality and the way he is when he talks to you, it isn't like he just wants to talk about football. It's like on a personal level he talks to you. It's not just about football. He's a real nice guy."

Wells also hit it off with Doc Tressel, his future position coach, at OSU's Junior Day last weekend.

"I love Doc Tressel," he said. "He's so funny; he's a goofy dude. I like him a whole lot."

The Buckeyes will have three scholarship tailbacks on the roster in 2005: Pittman, Erik Haw and Maurice Wells.

Chris Wells intends to challenge all of them for playing time in '06.

"I'm just really looking forward to just playing as soon as I get down there," Wells said. "I hope I can help the team in any way."

Wells is a simple guy. He doesn't have too many hobbies.

"The main thing I like to do in my spare time is just watch football," he said. "Just watch football, hang out with my friends, just go out."

Chris Wells: Game By Game

Here is a game-by-game look at Chris Wells' junior season at Akron Garfield (8-3):

Aug. 26, vs. Akron Hoban -- L, 13-7; 22 carries, 125 yards, 0 TDs.

Sept. 3, vs. Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary -- W, 38-28; 15 carries, 177 yards, 2 TDs.

Sept. 10, vs. Green -- W, 27-23; 9 carries, 37 yards, 0 TDs.

Sept. 17, vs. Chesterland West Geauga -- W, 21-10; 20 carries, 125 yards, 3 TDs.

Sept. 25, vs. Akron Kenmore -- W, 49-14; 21 carries, 218 yards, 3 TDs.

Oct. 1, vs. Akron Central Hower -- W 42-6; 18 carries, 239 yards, 1 TD.

Oct. 9, vs. Akron North -- W, 35-0; 24 carries, 195 yards, 2 TDs.

Oct. 15, vs. Akron East -- W, 35-0; 20 carries, 117 yards, 1 TD.

Oct. 23, vs. Akron Ellet -- W, 35-14; 19 carries, 264 yards, 5 TDs.

Oct. 29, vs. Akron Buchtel -- L, 42-21; 22 carries, 205 yards, 2 TDs; also caught a 41-yard TD pass.

Nov. 5, vs. Copley (Division II regional quarterfinals) -- L, 27-21; 22 carries, 237 yards, 2 TDs.

Season Totals -- 212 carries, 1,930 yards, 9.1 average per carry, 21 rushing TDs.

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