'06 Unwrapped: Michael Wade

Cardinal eyes are unusually focused on South Carolina these days, with the closely watched recruitment of basketball guard Byron Faison. Head a couple hours northwest and you will find one of the intriguing Stanford Football recruits for 2006. Quarterback Michael Wade from Greer (S.C.) Riverside will grab your attention with his arm and wheels, plus academics to match.

There is no position which is receiving more attention and scrutiny in this 2006 Stanford recruiting class than the quarterback spot.  Walt Harris is renowned as a quarterbacks guru, with a record more than two decades long of developing prolific passers.  Additionally, the Cardinal have signed just one signal caller in their last two classes, and just two in the last three years.  Looking ahead to the 2006 season, there could be just two quarterbacks on scholarship should Trent Edwards make the jump to the NFL, which has been discussed with increasing frequency the last couple months.  The choices Harris makes in selecting his slinger in this '06 class will have a big and immediate impact on the program.

There are no reported quarterback offers currently from Stanford, so we are still digging to unearth the preeminent prospects while Harris continues his evaluations.  One locale where you have not likely looked is Greer (S.C.), where Michael Wade leads the Riverside Warriors.  The 6'2" 196-pound dual-threat quarterback threw for 1,388 yards and nine touchdowns on 51% passing as a junior, while rushing for 623 (net) yards and another six scores on the ground.  Wade runs a 4.62 40 and has the wheels and athleticism to make you see glimpses of Jake Plummer when he goes under center.

Wade will tell you that his scrambling abilities have come from necessity more than anything else, and he has a unique perspective on how that developed.  His protection up front has been suspect, which normally is a sore point - literally - for quarterbacks.

"I haven't had the greatest [offensive] line, so I've had to scramble.  That's actually helped me," he explains.  "It's helped me to become a dual-threat and to read defenses better."

The Riverside slinger is a strong student of the game, and his cerebral understanding will only get stronger in the coming year.  Wade is working this off-season on improving his ability to read defenses, which will be aided by Riverside's new quarterbacks coach.  Larry Frost was the head coach at rival Greenville High School but now joins his younger brother Don at Riverside to present one of the most potent coaching combos in the Palmetto State.  Wade is additionally focused on getting faster this off-season, which will only improve his stock.

Scout.com has the South Carolinan in their new East Region Hot 100, after reviewing his junior film and watching Wade at the Scout.com All-American Combine this spring in Durham (N.C.).

"He's the kind of kid who is going to be able to sling the ball all over the field.  He can make all the throws," offers East Coast Recruiting Analyst Miller Safrit.  "He's also versatile enough to make his throws on the run.  They run an option shotgun system with a lot of rollouts.  Because of that, he has learned how to throw the ball correctly in that kind of system.  They also run a lot of read option where his job is to make the decision to run the ball or hand it off.  If he were on my team, I would let him run with it all day.  He can really hurt you whether he throws the ball or runs with it."

Now college coaches are getting their chance to observe and work with the South Carolina signal caller.  He and his father, who was a defensive end on the 1981 Clemson national championship team, are making the rounds of one-day camps this month at a number of schools.  Maryland, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Wake Forest, Clemson, Duke and possibly Georgia - that's a busy travel schedule, and it's well underway.  There of course is also some interest in a longer trip across the country to a Pac-10 passing power.

"If the opportunity arises, I would like to come out to Stanford," Wade allows.  "It's a long ways away, and I don't know yet if it could work out."

"I'm not quite sure how they found out about me," he says of the Cardinal.  "But my grades are great and I scored a 1220 on the SAT my first time.  I have a 4.56 GPA and rank 13th in my class [of ~300].  Stanford is a prestigious school, so it's probably my academics that drew them to me as much as anything.  I think my stats are pretty good, too.  If God willing, I'm supposed to be at Stanford, then I'll go there - regardless of the distance."

Wade's first scholarship offer came from Duke, but we expect more to come as schools have him at their camps this summer.  The Cardinal have all their fingers crossed that they will have their chance to evaluate him at their camp later this month, but they have perhaps a greater battle than distance on their hands to fight.  Growing up in a Clemson home, Wade will be projected by many observers to follow suit as a Tiger.

"If Clemson offered me, I would definitely have to think about it," the younger Wade muses.  "My father went to Clemson and I could follow in his footsteps, but I might also carve out my own perch.  He doesn't give me any pressure at all.  He says he isn't forcing me to go to his school, by any means."

He carefully pronounces that Clemson is not his leader at this time.  Still early in his recruitment, Wade delivers a list of seven top schools.

"In no order, I like Duke, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Clemson, Maryland, South Carolina and Stanford," he declares.  Wade has attended Junior Days at Duke and Wake Forest.

Look for video of Michael Wade from ScoutTV this week, and you'll begin to understand why he is one of the exciting names in quarterback recruiting this year.

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