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January 13, 2010

Season recap: Jake Wheeler

For some time, Jake Wheeler was South Florida's best-kept football recruiting secret.

The 6-foot-8, 250-pound offensive tackle didn’t participate in any offseason camps or combines, so the major recruiting services were largely unaware of his existence.

College football coaches, however, knew all about Wheeler, a senior at American Heritage High in Plantation, Fla., and a recent Maryland commitment.

“[Maryland] has a fairly good recruiting base in South Florida,” said American Heritage coach Byron Walker. “So Jake was known. Whether or not he was known with Rivals [and other recruiting services], he was known around the collegiate ranks. He has been a valuable prospect and he’s a very good basketball player. He actually had two sports to choose from in terms of what he did on the collegiate level. It wasn’t just football out there.”

Wheeler decided to shun several mid-major basketball offers when he committed to the Terps just before Christmas. In landing Wheeler, Maryland got a versatile, athletic prospect who started at left tackle and defensive end for the Patriots, while also seeing time at tight end and outside linebacker.

“Jake’s a pretty fiery guy, day in and day out,” Walker said. “He’s an emotional leader. He pushes the kids out there with his size and ability. He’s a natural leader for us. The fact that he can do so many things made him so valuable to us. He blocked a kick that preserved a 31-28 win. He did that two years in a row -- blocking field goals. He led our team in fumble recoveries for two years. The ball seems to be attracted to him when it’s on the ground.”

Wheeler helped American Heritage to a 9-3 record and an appearance in the region final as a senior. Walker said Wheeler’s wingspan and athleticism made him a difficult player to deal with for the opposition. “The sky is the limit” for Wheeler, Walker said.

“He’s tall and very athletic,” Walker said. “He has long arms, and that’s critical, particularly for the left tackle position. They just like those intangibles that he has. They can take a good foundation and build that into what could be a great player. He’s very intelligent, so he’s not going to have any trouble learning the offense at that level. I think there are a lot of things they like about him in that regard.

“But that great natural size is the main thing, and the way he moves around at that size. The thing about him is that he has those intangibles that we can’t coach, and that’s great size. We wouldn’t be surprised -- if he continues developing -- to see him playing on Sundays at some point as somebody’s left tackle.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 10:31 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Season recaps


The BIG Positive in recruiting these South Florida (Palm Beach, Broward & Miami-Dade counties) HS Players (250+ currently in Div I) is the CONDITIONING. Workouts, camps & all-year outdoor weather.

All the Tenn "committed" Kids are UP For GRABS right now. Come down & get them. Alex - Terps '77 West Palm Beach FL

suit him up for basketball too, we could use the help

Zach you're right this guy could be the 6'8 second coming of Curtis Schultz.

Nice to see he's a top level basketball player. Tough to project big kids in high school for the o-line, but a kid with the feet and coordination to play hoops has a head start. Its easier to put weight on than it is to learn to walk and chew gum at the same time. I believe Jared Gaither had some interest as a basketball player as well coming out of H.S

i love that we are going into Florida for kid snow, and he has long arms, i think with a red shirt season he could be a diamond in the rough .

You are right in that, big men are good to have, simply because they take up space and alter offenses.
But you still need athletic scorers. I just think Parker, who can play ANY position on the court at 6'6 is going to be a good weapon. Anyone over 6'6 that can handle the rock are very hard to stop if they also are good shooters.
Nwivitski(lol), Durant, Melo, James, these are the guys that take over games.
And good shooting gaurds like Kobe, MJ, etc.
Its so hard to get athletic big men, occasionally you luck out, ie, Joe Smith, Baxter, Wilcox, etc.
But, mostly, you end up with Mike Mardisich's.
I don't know. It just seems to me that the MD program lacks that true leader. I know GV is the one everyone assumes is it, but, I just don't see it that way.

Who really knows. I just looked at teh recruiting rivals list for 2011, and MD isn't anywhere on any of the top 75 guys lists. Maybe 1. So many are already signed to teams, yet MD has none. I don't understand how they just can't seem to recruit better than they do. How does GT go 2-14 in ACC play, then get 2 of the top 8 players? I refuse to believe everyone is dirty.
Texas recruits better than anyone, and Barnes says he learned everything he knows about recruiting from Gary WIlliams. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?

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About Matt Bracken

Matt Bracken was a lightly recruited football and tennis prospect out of East Lansing (Mich.) High School in 2001, but spurned all (nonexistent) scholarship offers to attend the University of Michigan. Matt graduated from UM in 2005, earned a master's degree in new media journalism from Northwestern University in 2006, and spent the first 11 months of his career as an online producer / videographer / blogger at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. He has worked at The Baltimore Sun since July 2007, where he currently serves as the deputy sports editor for digital.

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Area high school commitments -- 2009
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Maryland's 2010 football recruiting class
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