Bucknuts Magazine Excerpts: "Quick Baptism"

Some have said running back Maurice Wells is too small to take a pounding in the Big Ten. Given OSU's running back situation, those folks won't have to wait long to find out if that's the case as Wells will likely play right away this year. In this week's version of "Excerpts," we have a portion of a story by Gary Housteau on Wells from the most recent issue of Bucknuts the Magazine. Read on for more.

As part of the redesign of the Bucknuts.com web site, we have added an area where we can publish excerpts from Bucknuts The Magazine. Each week, we will put in a new excerpt from the latest edition of Bucknuts The Magazine.

BTM has evolved from humble beginnings as a 32-page magazine into its current format as an 80-page magazine. It is published 10 times a year (monthly from September through April, then once in the Spring and Summer).

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In each issue of Bucknuts The Magazine, we have in-depth features on Ohio State football players, coaches and prospects. We also have analysis pieces on the Buckeyes as well as their opponents, the Big Ten and college football world in general. Plus, we have features on OSU athletes in a variety of sports, including men's and women's basketball, hockey, wrestling, baseball and other sports.

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This week's excerpt is from the most recent issue of Bucknuts, the summer football preview issue that will be available on newsstands throughout the coming weeks. This article is on new OSU running back Maurice Wells, who could be seeing plenty of time as a freshman this year.

Headline: Quick Baptism

By Gary Housteau

While the Ohio State football team was conducting their annual spring game in April, future Buckeye Maurice Wells of Jacksonville (Fla.) Sandalwood High School was with members of his senior class at an all-day/all-night senior day event at an amusement park.

"I was out of town the whole time that day but I had heard the game went good. I was thinking about it a lot on the 23rd (of April)," Wells said. "I was thinking that if I would have graduated early that I could have been up there with the guys, playing around with them. I definitely would have loved to have been up there just to kind of get my feet wet and be there with the guys, and prove to myself that I can compete on the next level and be kind of good at it.

"But I'm entitled to enjoy my senior year and all good things come in time. So I'll wait until the summer to get with it."

Despite his physical absence from being so many miles away, Wells has been kept abreast on a regular basis of what exactly is going on in Buckeye country.

"I definitely feel like I'm a part of the team. I definitely feel like I'm a Buckeye," Wells said. "I get all of the team mail and I get calls from the coaches and I talk to some of the players and stuff. Yeah, being down here in Florida is hard, but I definitely do feel like I am a Buckeye and I am a part of the team."

And he's been doing everything that he possibly can, both physically and mentally, to prepare for when he finally does become a Buckeye.

"I'm working out hard every day with one of my teammates that has a scholarship to Murray State and I'm putting on some weight," said Wells from his home in Florida. "I'm actually up to 191 (pounds) now and my quickness and speed are still there. So we're still down here working hard trying to get ready for the next level."

Wells certainly knows that the expectations for him will be high when he eventually gets to campus and that's a major motivating force for him.

"The coaches, from what they tell me, expect a lot from me, and I don't want to be a disappointment to them or anybody," he said. "So I am kind of anxious to get up there and get it all started."

As it stands now, Wells will report to summer camp at Ohio State as the third tailback behind sophomore Antonio Pittman and redshirt freshman Erik Haw. Wells, who packs a lot of speed and power into his 5-10 frame, is ready to shake up the depth chart at the running back spot.

"I can run a 4.3 (second)-40 still. I can bet on that," Wells said. "I can bench about 340 and I can squat at least 500 pounds. But I'm just trying to get bigger, stronger and faster so that I'll be ready to compete for playing time when I get up there."

Wells might actually be the fastest of the three running backs but he's not one to shy away from contact by any means.

"As soon as I get the ball I'm going 100 miles an hour downhill, so they say that I have good vertical quickness." Wells said. "My speed and my vision, they say that I make all the right cuts, help me to score from anywhere on the field. When I hit the hole, it doesn't matter if anybody has an angle on me or not, I'll beat them to the corner and I can take it the distance.

"I can slam it in there and I can get around the outside. I have all aspects of my game down pat. I kind of do what's necessary. I make the right cuts but I don't juke too much. I'm not a finesse guy; I can lower my shoulder, too, to get the extra yard. I feel that I'm really a complete package, a true running back. I've got moves, I can make you miss and I can run you over. I can do it all."

Wells played some as a freshman on offense at wingback and then he was moved to defense when a new coach came in for his sophomore year. About halfway through his sophomore season, he was moved back to offense and played running back where he recorded close to 1,000 yards in just five games. Wells then had his breakout year in his junior campaign. He led the state of Florida in rushing with 3,076 yards and scored 31 touchdowns. Wells was named the Florida Class 6A player of the year and was regarded as one of the nation's top running backs that year.

"In my junior year I was actually the number one running back in the nation for a minute but the rankings changed," Wells said. "But I was the number one back in Florida and the number one player in Florida that year."

The following season, Wells was bit by the injury bug but still managed to amass 1,900 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns in just nine games.

"Overall I think that I had a pretty productive career at Sandalwood," said Wells who is completely healed from a nagging hip-pointer that cost him two full games during the middle of his senior season. "My coach, Adam Geis, did a good job of putting me in the right position and calling the right plays to get me to where I'm at right now."

And now he comes to Ohio State highly recommended by the likes of Bill Conley, OSU's former recruiting coordinator, and some national recruitniks who have seen him play in high school.

"Maurice Wells has unbelievable quickness and athletic talent," Conley said. "He's an exceptional talent that will play early for the Buckeyes. He has the speed, quickness and versatility to play several positions and could be a remarkable return specialist. He has great big-play potential."

OSU running backs coach Dick Tressel is also excited to have Wells in the fold.

"He's explosive and he's tough," Dick Tressel said. "To get that many yards, you've got to be willing to get smacked lots of times. He is a durable guy who has had a lot of carries.

"He was probably one of the first guys we had with a video evaluation where we said, ‘That guy is a great player. We have got to offer that guy.' To get him to sign with Ohio State, that is really special."

Of course, Wells knows that no matter how highly touted he comes to Ohio State, he still has to get the job done in practice first in order to earn his opportunities for playing time on game days, be it as a starter or a backup.

"I'm just going to go in there and play my hardest and compete and try to win the starting spot," Wells said. "If the coaches feel that I'm the best back that's available then I'm going to start. To me, it's as simple as that. But I'm going to come in and work hard, and if I don't start right off the bat, then I think I'll eventually get my time to shine and get my playing time."

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