By Cam Smith, USA TODAY High School Sports | November 17, 2016 3:25 pm
Lamont Wade is one of the nation’s most talented athletes, starring as both a running back and defensive back for Clairton in suburban Pittsburgh. That’s without question. That also doesn’t mean that the 5-foot-9, 190-pounder is without controversy.
Case-in-point: Wade drops Michigan from the list of schools he’s considering because the coaching staff asks him to come to its summer camp for evaluation. Well, that explanation is not quite sufficient. Wade dropped the Wolverines, then called them out in front of the world for their perceived lack of belief. As he looks back now, Wade — who says he could become a Jabrill Peppers-style player at the next level — says he feels the entire Michigan situation was blown out of context, and that he has no hard feelings, even if the Wolverines are now distinctly on the outside looking in as his recruitment nears its conclusion.
“The Michigan situation got run with and was made a bigger deal that it was,” Wade told USA TODAY High School Sports. “I’m down to my top-5 now, with Penn State, UCLA, Tennessee, West Virginia and Pitt. I’ve visited Tennessee and Penn State, and still have official visits to take to UCLA, West Virginia and Pitt before I commit on December 17. I’ve enjoyed recruiting while it’s happened, but it’s good that it’s coming to an end. Right now I have a state championship to get.”
Wade’s talent is inarguable, which he showcased to the nation fewer than two months after his Michigan comments first grabbed headlines on this ridiculous hurdling touchdown run against Aliquippa.
— WPIAL_Insider (@WPIAL_Insider) October 8, 2016
That’s some play, and surely what the Under Armour All-America selectors had in mind when they made Wade one of their All-America choices for the 2016 game. The honor was made official Thursday, when Wade was presented with his official jersey in front of a packed assembly that included elementary, middle and high schoolers, not to mention his family and closest friends.
“The ceremony went great, the whole school came out, with elementary, middle and high schoolers,” Wade said. “The kingergarten class made a sign for me and wanted to shake my hand, which was really cool. My family was there, too, and it just meant a lot to me.
“(Being an All-American) is huge. I just can’t wait to play in the game and compete. I’m very proud of myself and having this accomplishment. It’s going to be a little bit different for me focusing purely on cornerback, but it’s going to prepare me to see where my game is at.”
Of course, as Wade made perfectly clear, his focus now is strictly on finishing his high school career on the right note, which has a singular finish line: A Pennsylvania state championship. To get there, Wade and his teammates will need four more wins, and plenty of moments of magic from him.
Make no mistake: Wade is up for the challenge.
“We’re in district semifinals this week, next week would be district championships, then we have one state playoff game then state championship,” Wade said. “It would be huge to go out as a state champion. That would make me complete.”