A little luck helped UA uncover a gem in Trevin Wadeby Anthony Gimino on Oct. 07, 2009, under Sports
Sometimes you get a five-star recruit who’s no star. Sometimes you get a two-star recruit who’s all-star.
Sometimes, you just get lucky and happen to have an assistant coach whose nephew is a basketball coach at this high school in Texas and he keeps telling his uncle about this under-recruited kid who plays football who is going to be an awfully good player for somebody … why not you?
And so it was, that late in the recruiting process before the February 2007 signing date, Arizona assistant coach Dana Dimel relented and watched a highlight tape of this kid who was the faintest blip on the recruiting radar.
That kid was Trevin Wade.
“Dana just brought me the tape and asked what I thought of him,” said UA defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. “I told him, I like him a lot.”
A lot of schools had that tape. Whether they watched, who knows? Wade put together a highlight mix of his junior season — when he mostly played safety — and sent it to 120 schools, he said. As a senior, he played a lot of offense, because that’s what his team needed.
Dimel — who is now coaching at Kansas State — went out to Stony Point High School in Round Rock, Texas, to watch Wade play basketball for coach Brian Route. Cal had taken a late interest in Wade, too. A few days later, Bears coach Jeff Tedford was sitting the stands watching Wade play hoops.
“It was pretty exciting stuff,” Route said.
Wade visited Cal, but the Bears wanted him to grayshirt, meaning to delay his enrollment until the spring so his eligibility clock would start later.
Wade then visited Arizona on the final recruiting weekend.
“It was a pretty easy call,” Wade said.
It was a pretty good call.
Wade, a sophomore in his first season as a starter, is making a mockery of the recruiting rankings. He already has eight career interceptions — four as a little-used reserve last season and four through four games this season. He returned one interception for a touchdown against Iowa last month.
Coming out of Stony Point High, Wade was rated a two-star recruit by Rivals.com, a ranking that basically means this: “Oh, we didn’t know about him, but he’s being recruited by a major-college program … let’s give him two stars.”
Until the two Pac-10 schools came on late, Wade’s best option might have been lower-division Sam Houston State.
“I have no idea, honestly,” Wade said, asked why he got so little recruiting attention. “My junior year, I thought I performed well. … I don’t know, man.
“My basketball coach always told Coach Dimel, ‘Come check my boy out.’ I guess Coach Dimel wasn’t buying it, and then one day he looked at the highlight tape and was interested. It was pretty crazy. My basketball coach got me here.”
Stoops can’t lie. The Wildcats wouldn’t have recruited Wade unless they thought he could help some way, some day, but Stoops had no idea it would be this good, this early. Having barely played cornerback in high school, Wade turned out to be a natural.
“I think he has caught on a little quicker than I anticipated,” Stoops said with a grin.
“He is very smart. He listens. He studies. He has a great awareness out there. He has a really good feel for the game. That we noticed right away. That we noticed in year one.”
Wade (5-foot-11, 182 pounds) redshirted in year one, happily taking cornerback tips from future first-round draft pick Antoine Cason. In his first fall camp, Wade was so impressive that he earned the nickname “Baby Champ,” a reference to NFL star corner Champ Bailey. Wade played as a reserve last season behind Devin Ross and now-departed Marquis Hundley.
Wade is tied for second in the nation in interceptions (1.0 per game), has broken up a team-high four passes and is third on the team in tackles with 25.
“I don’t know if there is anyone who is playing as well as Trevin,” said head coach Mike Stoops.
“He is playing awfully, awfully well. He’s just a very savvy player who understands the game very well. He has some of the same attributes as Antoine — loves to practice, always has a smile on his face. He just has all the makings of a very talented player.”
Mark Stoops has coached a lot of great defensive backs, including Cason at Arizona, and Antrel Rolle, Sean Taylor, Ed Reed and Phillip Buchanon at Miami.
Let’s not go crazy about Wade’s potential, but asked to compare Wade to other players he has coached, Mark Stoops couldn’t quite answer.
“I really can’t compare him to anybody, and that’s probably a first. I like to compare guys to other guys — or somebody might remind me of some of the great players I’ve coached — but he is really unique. He really is.”
How has Wade done what he has done?
“Honestly, probably just out of anger,” he said.
“A lot of people thought I wasn’t going to be able to perform the way I am now. … I always told myself that once I got on the field, I was going to show everything because I just felt disrespected. I practice out of anger, frustration.
“It doesn’t get my focus off. It just makes me want to get better.”
Like any good cornerback, he has an overflow of confidence.
“I haven’t mastered it, but I’m pretty close I think,” he said of the cornerback position. “As long as I keep working on it, everything will fall into place.”
Just how everything fell into place and Wade landed at Arizona.
Related link at wildaboutazcats.com: Revisiting Devin Ross’ game-saving interception against Oregon State (with a video breakdown from Versus.com)