The Atlantic Coast Conference plays its championship game each December in Jacksonville, Fla.
The city itself, however, is anything but an ACC town.
Just ask Marquel Wade and Brandon Rogers, a pair of prospects from Jacksonville. Both are getting feelers from schools all over the country, but both are intrigued by the possibility of playing in the Southeastern Conference.
Wade, a 5-foot-11, 180-pounder with 4.42-second speed in the 40-yard dash, is listed as an athlete by Rivals.com. However, every school recruiting him, he said Thursday night, is looking at him as a wide receiver. And there are plenty of prospective suitors.
Wade has offers from South Florida, Miami, Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Louisville, Maryland, Arkansas, Middle Tennessee State, Ole Miss, Illinois, South Carolina, East Carolina, Cincinnati, Indiana and UAB. From that list, four clearly stand out.
Wade said Arkansas, Ole Miss, South Florida and Middle Tennessee are in the lead for his services, with the Razorbacks and Bulls holding a slight advantage over the Rebels right now. Wade has tentatively scheduled an official visit to Arkansas later this month when the Hogs entertain Georgia. Arkansas assistant Bob Petrino, Wade said, is scheduled to be in Jacksonville tonight when Wade's Andrew Jackson team faces Robert E. Lee.
"Arkansas is telling me I can come and be a real impact player as a freshman in kickoff return and in the spread offense," Wade said.
While Arkansas is out front, Ole Miss is very much in the race. The Rebels, via wide receivers coach Ron Dickerson Jr., have been in steady contact, and Wade likes what he hears.
"(Dickerson) was telling me I've got a good chance of doing things at the school," Wade said. "He said I'd have a good chance of getting in the rotation and being one of the top receivers at the school.
I really want to play in the SEC. That's where all the top players are playing in and that's where the big-time rivalries are. I really want to play in the SEC."
Wade, who said a key element in his decision will be the quality of the university's broadcast journalism department, caught seven passes for 107 yards in Jackson's season-opener against Raines.
Rogers' offer list isn't as impressive as Wade's yet, but the interest in the 6-foot-3, 311-pound offensive lineman from Trinity Christian has been steadily increasing. Rogers camped at both Florida State and LSU this summer, and both programs _ especially the Tigers _ are keeping a close eye on his development this season. Miami is scouting Trinity Christian's game tonight against Becker County.
The first call Rogers received when coaches were allowed to begin contacting senior prospects on Sept. 1 came from Ole Miss, and the Rebels clearly have Rogers' attention.
"Ole Miss is telling me they like me a lot," Rogers said. "(Dickerson) came down in the spring and they liked what they saw. He said they wanted to follow up with me."
Rogers, who has also heard from East Carolina, Charleston Southern and Liberty since Sept. 1, said he and his teammate, four-star defensive back Rashad Knight, are planning to take unofficial visits to Ole Miss when the Rebels meet Alabama in Oxford on Oct. 10 and again in late November when Ole Miss entertains LSU.
"(Dickerson) said they're going to let me know something next couple of weeks or so," Rogers said. "If they offered, they'd be No. 1. I really like Ole Miss. Coach Dickerson is a great guy. It's not always about football. He asks about your family and about school. I like that. He said he and (Ole Miss offensive line coach Mike Markuson) are coming down the week after our bye week (in early November)."
Rogers said Ole Miss is looking at him at offensive guard. Liberty, East Carolina and Louisville want him as an offensive tackle. Florida Atlantic, Rogers said, wants to put him at defensive tackle at the college level.
"I feel as if I'll do whatever's best for the team," Rogers said. "I would really prefer to play on the offensive side of the ball, but I just want to win. I want to do whatever I can to contribute."
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