Wells' performance gives OSU fans high hopes for '06
Posted: Saturday January 7, 2006 8:50PM; Updated: Saturday January 7, 2006 9:04PM
Chris Wells -- who scored three TDs Saturday -- could have an instant impact in Columbus.
SAN ANTONIO -- Still riding their Rose Bowl high, local Longhorns fans arrived at the Alamodome on Saturday hoping to catch a glimpse of their next Vince Young. Instead, they got a potentially scary look at a guy who will be lining up against their team next fall.
While Young's heir apparent, Texas-bound Jevan Snead, was the U.S. Army All-America Bowl's leading passer, the star of the fifth-annual all-star football spectacle was unquestionably future Ohio State tailback Chris Wells. Showing off a physical running style that would have made Woody Hayes proud, the nation's top-ranked running back prospect lived up to his billing, carrying 13 times for 67 yards and three touchdowns to lead the East to a 27-16 victory over the West.
On his third score, a 5-yard run early in the fourth quarter, the 6-foot-1, 225-pounder plowed over at least four West defenders in his path to the end zone.
"That's Ohio State-type football," said Wells' coach for the East team -- and a guy slightly familiar with the Buckeyes -- Ted Ginn Sr.
With many of the stars of OSU's 34-20 Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame returning in 2006, including quarterback Troy Smith and Ginn's son, many in Columbus are already thinking national title. Adding Wells to the equation certainly won't hurt. The Buckeyes have a proven tailback returning in Antonio Pittman, but he's more of a slasher. (Pittman's backup, Maurice Wells, was also one of the nation's top-ranked tailback prospects a year ago.) It's easy to picture Wells, who will enroll in time for spring practices, getting his share of carries as a freshman, particularly in goal-line and short-yardage situations. Though Pittman ran for 1,331 yards last season, he scored just seven touchdowns.
"I just want to go in and learn," Wells said Saturday. "If [OSU coaches] want to make me an impact player, that's up to them."
An Akron, Ohio, native who grew up idolizing Ohio State runners like Eddie George and Maurice Clarett, Wells committed to the Buckeyes nearly a year ago. He said he briefly considered USC and Michigan but "you only look at those schools because of the name. I was born to play for Ohio State."
Wells wasn't the only future Buckeye who shined in Saturday's event. Robert Rose, a lightning-fast defensive end who plays for Ginn Sr. at the same Cleveland high school, Glenville, that produced Smith and Ginn Jr., completely dominated the West's blockers during one mid-game stretch, collecting one tackle for loss and racing into the backfield practically untouched on another play.
Rose spent much of the practice week leading up to the game attempting to tackle his future teammate Wells and came away impressed. "He's a beast," Rose said of Wells. "There are a lot of little DBs out there who might want to bulk up if they're going against him."
Though they haven't even gotten to campus, Wells and Rose aren't shying away from the national-title talk. "I think we can get it done," Rose said. To do so, however, they know they'll have to return to this state in almost exactly eight months for a date with a certain team in burnt orange. Ohio State plays in Austin -- 80 miles north of the Alamodome -- on Sept. 9.
"Coming back here to play the defending national champions?" Rose said. "I'm really, really looking forward to that."
Back in Columbus, they're really, really looking forward to Wells' and Rose's arrivals.