July 7, 2011

Wheelwright picking up interest

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Ohio's 2013 class is going to have an abundance of tall receivers and one of the very best is Columbus (Ohio) Walnut Ridge product Rob Wheelwright. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound prospect is the younger brother of former Minnesota standout Ernie Wheelwright. Wheelwright recently picked up his first offer from Wisconsin and is hearing from a variety of programs around the nation.

"I felt great, it was exciting," said Wheelwright of his first offer. "I didn't know they were going to offer me but after my performance at their camp, they decided to offer."

Wisconsin recently signed Wheelwright's teammate, class of 2011 athlete Austin Traylor so the Badgers look to be a team that will ultimately contend for Wheelwright's services.

"It's a good facility and a great opportunity," Wheelwright said of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin certainly won't be the last school to extend an offer Wheelwright's way. Many of the top programs in the Midwest are already showing heavy interest.

"Cincinnati, Michigan State, Michigan, Purdue, Syracuse, North Carolina State, and a couple of other schools," he said.

Ohio State has also shown some interest in Wheelwright. The Buckeyes invited Wheelwright out to a spring practice in April.

"I've had a little contact with Ohio State," he explained. "I went to see them practice during the spring. It was pretty cool (the facilities) were real nice."

Wheelwright says it's too early to really talk about any favorites and at the moment is just taking the process in. The focus for now is on his junior season where he will be relied on heavily if Walnut Ridge hopes to make the playoffs.

"(Expectations) are just to help my team win and make us better," he said. "I just try to go out there and play hard every night. I'm working on my route running and my speed and agility."

Coach's Take:

Walnut Ridge head coach Byron Mattox has seen his fair share of talent come through the program recently. Just in the last three seasons, Mattox has sent Austin Traylor (Wisconsin), Zakee Bashir (Marshall), and Brandon Rice (Southern) to Division I programs and also coached West Virginia standout Julian Miller at Beechcroft.

Mattox feels that Wheelwright projects as well to the next level as any of the other prospects that he has coached.

"He could be right there on the level with those guys," Mattox said. "He could be an Austin Traylor type. Austin was huge in all three phases and right now Rob is real big for us in two phases (offense and special teams). He has the luxury of not being forced to play defense so much but he'll play some there this year. He's on that pace to be that same type of player."

Mattox says that in addition to Wheelwright's physical abilities, his intangibles are also a major key to his early success.

"He's a real hard worker," Mattox said. "He's real coachable and wants to get better. He catches the ball well and he takes pride in his blocking. He just needs to get stronger and more experienced."

Currently, Wheelwright is the #19 ranked player in the BuckeyeGrove.com class of 2013 rankings and carries a 3.0 grade-point average in the classroom.


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