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January 13, 2005SAN ANTONIO, Texas - All of the talk this week at the all-star game in San Antonio has circled around the wide receivers and defensive backs. One position that has not been talked about as much is the running backs. Guys like Patrick Turner have stole the show all week, but Jacksonville (Fla.) Sandalwood running back Maurice Wells has proven that he is one of the nation's best.
"This whole experience has been a lot of fun so far," Wells said. "There are a lot of great players here and it is just an honor to be considered on the same level as them and have a chance to play with and compete against them. I don't think any of us have ever been on a team with this much talent because every guy out here is going to play Division I football next year."
Wells has split time with Jason Gwaltney, Rashard Mendenhall and Elan Lewis. The East squad has spread the field and thrown a lot this week during practice so Wells along with the other running backs could get limited touches during the game on Saturday.
Many players have trouble adjusting to the speed of the game in an all-star game of this caliber. Then again, Wells is from Florida, which traditionally produces some of the nation's fastest players. It's not so much the speed of the game that has affected Wells this week, but it's the size-speed combination that has caught his attention.
"The speed of some of these guys isn't so much of an issue," Wells said.
"I think I can probably run with anyone in the country, though these guys are very fast. I am from Florida so I'm used to this sort of speed. It is the size of some of these guys that I have to get used to a little bit here. Even though these guys are really big, they don't lose speed or anything. I think overall I have adjusted pretty well to the talent of all of these guys, but I will have to say that it has been a little different with the raised talent level."
The 5-foot-9, 177-pound Wells ran the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds and the 4.38 second shuttle time and posted a 31-inch vertical jump. He is ranked as the No. 66 player overall in the nation and the No. 4 all-purpose back in the nation.
As a junior Wells rushed for 3,079 yards and 31 touchdowns, was an all-state selection and rushed for 429 yards in a single game. He was also named the state player of the year as a junior. Most every school in the country is after Wells who boasts over 40 scholarship offers. However, he has narrowed it down to three and will let us all know very soon.
"I am going to make my commitment during the game on Saturday," Wells said. "I am going to choose between USC, Ohio State and Georgia Tech. I have already made my decision, but I am not going to tip my hand to anything until Saturday. It was a tough decision, but I will let everyone know on Saturday when I put on that hat."
The speculation around San Antonio has Wells leaning toward choosing the Buckeye's on Saturday afternoon, but as we all know anything can happen. He touched on what he liked about each of his schools.
"Both Ohio State and Georgia Tech need running backs," Wells said.
"Ohio State is losing their top two running backs so they need someone that can step up and play immediately and I think that any player looks for early playing time. P.J. Daniels is coming back at Georgia Tech, but they need to add some depth as well.
"USC is just a great situation. They have a lot of good running backs, but they love to rotate them and they want to add more depth. You know that you are going to have a chance to compete for a national championship if you go to USC."