One in a series looking at top recruits for the 2019 football season.
Souderton running back DeAndre Wakefield was concerned after last season. He had an impressive junior year, and coaches from opposing teams described him as “unique” and “complete” and “dynamic.”
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But college recruiters were not rushing to get him on the phone. In fact, his phone wasn’t ringing at all.
“I started getting worried,” Wakefield said. “I actually was second-guessing myself if I was good enough [for] the next level.”
The second-guessing stopped when recruiters from several Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision schools called Wakefield shortly after last season. But the senior’s quest to prove himself as one of Pennsylvania’s top running backs continues.
“If I have a breakout season, I know more offers will come,” he said.
The 5-foot-11, 165-pound Wakefield participated in a football camp at the University of Connecticut earlier this summer and has had discussions with recruiters from Syracuse, Maine, Wake Forest, Albany and Akron, among others throughout the offseason.
And since he is seeking more attention, Wakefield said he knows he has to build on last year’s success. He saw his first consistent playing time last season, and he rushed for 730 yards -- an average of 8.5 yards per carry -- and 11 touchdowns in nine games.
He also caught five passes for 103 yards and three scores, and scored another touchdown on a kickoff return. He added 11 tackles and one interception as a cornerback.
As a sophomore, Wakefield rushed for 253 yards -- an average of 5.1 yards per carry -- and three touchdowns, while making eight tackles at cornerback.
“He feels he has something to prove,” Souderton coach Ed Gallagher said.
Wakefield had a four-game stretch last season that showcased his Division I potential. He rushed for 131 yards and three touchdowns on eight carries in a 35-16 win over William Tennent.
The next week, in a wild 38-33 win over Pennridge, he rushed for 133 yards and three scores on 14 carries. The following week, Wakefield rushed for 178 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries in a 21-14 win over Central Bucks East.
"DeAndre Wakefield is a complete player,” Pennridge coach Cody Muller said. “He has the speed to run by you but is tough enough to run through the middle of the defense, and he plays so hard.”
“He is a very unique runner,” Central Bucks East coach John Donnelly said. “He has a blend of power and speed, but his speed is like a glider. He doesn’t’ look like he is moving fast, but he is running away from people.”
Donnelly also noted Wakfield’s balance and strength.
“We kept him fairly contained, and he broke two runs that were back breakers," he said. "He is a dynamic player. ... I told [college recruiters] they have to see him.”
In the last of his four-game run, a 29-27 loss to powerful North Penn, Wakefield rushed for 92 yards on 15 carries.
“He has great speed and is elusive,” North Penn coach Dick Beck said. “He can make you miss in the open field but is not afraid to lower his shoulder. He is also dangerous out of the backfield as a receiver.”
Wakefield, a running back since his days of playing Pop Warner football as an 8-year-old for the Souderton Braves, plays so physically that Gallagher is moving him from cornerback to linebacker on defense.
“He likes to hit people,” Gallagher said.
As for gaining more attention from recruiters, Wakefield said he is trying to stand out from the crowd while staying humble.