The story of Myles Wade is nothing if not amazing. His is a story of triumph over tragedy, hard work overcoming circumstance, dedication outlasting doubt, and victory shining through heartache.
A four-star All-American recruit just two years ago, Wade has gone from one of the most highly sought after recruits in the entire country to a junior college transfer looking for a chance to prove he belongs. Soon after signing his letter of intent with his state's flagship school, Oregon, out of high school, Wade failed to qualify, and was placed by the Ducks' staff at Arizona Western Junior College.
Moving from Portland, OR to Yuma, AZ was a big transition for Wade, but he knew he had to make it work if he was ever going to play Division One football. However, just a few short months into his tenure at AWJC, Wade received the worst news he'd heard in his young life- his mother and biggest champion, Lori, had been diagnosed cancer and given only a few months to live.
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"That was the hardest thing that had ever happened to me," said Wade through tears. "She was my biggest fan, my biggest supporter, you know? She meant more to me than anyone could ever imagine. And hearing that was just like having your world come crashing down or something."
Nonetheless, Wade remained determined and pressed on toward his ultimate goal. After a stellar freshman season out in Arizona, he was asked by Oregon's staff to sit out the next season in order to have three years of eligibility remaining when he arrived on campus. They also asked him to transfer to nearby Portland Community College in order to keep a closer eye on his academic progress. Being a team player, Wade complied with both requests.
After transferring to Portland C.C., which uses trimesters rather than semesters, Wade was informed that most of his credits from AWJC would not transfer, effectively leaving him an incredibly slim chance of qualifying. Shortly after hearing this news, Oregon's calls came with less and less frequency, until finally, late this fall, they stopped coming at all. Through various intermediaries, it has been made clear to the star defensive tackle that the Ducks' staff simply doesn't think he can qualify.
After recovering from the shock of being dropped by the program he'd worked so hard to become a part of, Wade is now evaluating his options. The four-star prospect had always envisioned himself as a West Coast guy, but over the next two weeks, he'll be visiting at least two programs, neither of which is on the West Coast.
"I do have an offer from Texas Tech," confirmed Wade. "I'm also hearing a lot from Auburn, USC, and Nebraska. All three of those schools have said they're going to offer.
"I'm visiting Tech this coming weekend - there have been a lot of schools calling lately and asking if I'll come visit, but Tech was the first school to come back and offer me and I wanted to repay them, so I'll be visiting them first. Then I'll probably visit one of those other schools the next weekend."
Since we spoke with Wade, he has confirmed that he will be visiting Auburn over the last weekend in January, but he doesn't expect to make a decision until he's made all his visits.
"I don't know that I want to make a decision when I'm on any visits, because I want to be able to sit back and digest it away from the visit," he said. "You know how it is - when you're on a visit, you want to go to that place, so I don't want to get into that. I don't want to make a spur of the moment decision."
While he won't be making a decision on his visit, he does know exactly what he'll be looking for while he's there.
"I'll be looking for a place where I can earn my bachelor's and my master's degrees," he explained. "Everyone talks about making the NFL, and, don't get me wrong, I think about that every second and I know it's possible, but I need to get an education and get my degree so that I can be prepared in case something bad happens again.
"Coach [Dennis] Simmons talked a lot about that, and I know a lot of players couldn't care less, but he made a big deal about it, and that stuck with me. I'm also going to be looking for a community that will embrace me and that I can embrace. And lastly, I want to go somewhere where I can win some ballgames and find some coaches who want what's best for me."
And in Texas Tech's case, he thinks he may have found just that.
"That's the thing I like about Tech, they kind of took a chance when no one else wanted to," he explained. "Coach Ruff [Defensive Coordinator Ruffin McNeill] and Coach Simmons seem like family type guys who can make sure I'm at home. They took a shot on me and actually came through with their word and put their money where their mouth was."
It's obvious that Wade appreciates being believed in, and to anyone who doubts him, he's got a message.
"I know it's a tough thing to do, to get back there to Division One ball and make an impact," he said. "But to those schools who don't think I can do it - they obviously don't know me. This summer, I held down a full-time job, took care of my mom, worked out everyday at 5:15, and took a full class load. So for anyone who doesn't think I can do it, all I can say is that I can't wait to prove them wrong."
Indeed, Wade has spent the majority of the last two years proving his doubters wrong, and if he can do so once more, he'll be well on his way to writing another chapter in what is already a fascinating narrative.