If you follow high school football here in New Hampshire, then you probably heard about the 556-yard rushing performance Manchester Central running back Jesiah Wade turned in against Merrimack last Friday.
If you heard about Wade’s big night, then you may have asked the following question: “Where’s that kid going to college?”
It’s a question that can’t be answered at the moment, because it seems no one is recruiting Wade.
“No, not really,” Wade replied Tuesday when he was asked if he had been contacted by college coaches at any level.
Perhaps that’s because Wade spent the first three years of his high school career at Campbell High School in Litchfield, which is one of the smallest schools with varsity football in New Hampshire. Campbell competed in Division V for each of Wade’s three seasons there. He transferred to Central, a Division I program, late last summer when his mother moved from Litchfield to Manchester.
Former Campbell coach Marc Prindeville said he received plenty of mail from colleges addressed to Wade last season, but most of the letters were invitations to attend summer camps.
“Colleges are busy with their season right now, but I’m positive we’ll hear from a lot of schools,” Central coach Ryan Ray said. “It may be a situation where he spends a year at prep school. He’s made a lot of adjustments here: new team, new offense, new terminology. He’s handled everything extremely well.”
Wade, a 5-foot-9, 185-pound senior, has rushed for 1,203 yards on 105 carries in Central’s five games this season. He failed to reach the 100-yard mark in either of his first two games — losses to Concord (35-6) and Pinkerton Academy of Derry (37-20) — but has gained more than 200 yards in each of Central’s last three contests. He rushed for 224 yards on 14 carries in a 42-13 triumph over Manchester Memorial; gained 246 yards on 29 carries in a 22-21 victory over Goffstown; and picked up his 556 yards on 31 carries when Central beat Merrimack 56-35.
According to the National High School Record Book, Wade’s 556 yards rushing is the most ever recorded in a game by a New England high school player (11-man football). On the national level, it’s the 12th best rushing performance of all time.
Wade said he has changed his running style since leaving Campbell. “I used to be a person who runs away from contact,” he said. “Here you have to lower you shoulder. You still have to avoid people sometimes. What you do depends on the situation.”
Wade didn’t begin playing organized football until his freshman season, when he was used primarily as a kick returner. He was a Division V all-state wide receiver as a sophomore, and led the state in rushing last season with 2,204 yards.
Wade, who’s best time in the 40-yard dash is 4.5 seconds, said he also plans to run track and play basketball for Central. He made it clear that football is the sport he wants to pursue after high school, however.
Ray said Wade could play one of the skill positions on offense or defensive back at the college level.
“He could excel at the I-AA (FCS) level,” Ray said. “But I know if he got into a larger school he could make the adjustment again — just like he did when he got here a couple days before the season started.”