Former WKU running back Ace Wales thankful for his time at WKU

Former WKU running back Anthony “Ace” Wales perform drills for scouts during Pro Day on Monday at Smith Stadium.

Kenton Hornbeck

Anthony “Ace” Wales has been an underdog his entire life. From the moment he stepped on to the football field, people questioned his size. Now, people are wondering what NFL team Wales might end up landing on this fall.

“Like people been saying I was too small all my life, so I just put it over my shoulder and just worry about having a big heart,” Wales said. “That’s the only thing that matters. I go in each and every day like I’m the biggest guy on the field, so I really don’t care about what my size is. I’m going to go out there and play hard.”

Wales burst onto the scene as a junior for the Hilltoppers. The Louisville native rushed for 1,311 yards from scrimmage with 11 touchdowns in 2015.

In 2016, Wales surpassed his previous numbers and ran for a monstrous 1,944 yards and 29 touchdowns, finishing his career as the program’s all-time leader in touchdowns scored.

In his final game as a Hilltopper, Wales capitalized his tremendous career at WKU by racking up 329 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns against Memphis in the Boca Raton Bowl.

Wales carried the same confidence he earned during last season with him to WKU’s Pro Day on Monday.

“I feel like I did really great today,” Wales said. “But just coming out here and showing them my speed, showing these guys my agility and stuff … I’ve been able to get a lot of great feedback as far as explosive plays and stuff like that. I just want to keep putting everything in God’s hands, just come out here to work each and every day.”

Wales’ presence on the football team was one of the many examples of the transformation of WKU from the new FBS school on the block to one of the winningest football programs in the country during the past few years.

Wales hasn’t carried the load by himself though. Fellow seniors Forrest Lamp and Taywan Taylor are projected to get selected in the upcoming NFL Draft. Since the trio has stepped onto campus, they’ve been a part of 39 wins in a four-year stretch.

Wales wasn’t just an offensive catalyst. Sometimes he was the show. On many occasions, teams would stack the defensive line to clog his running lanes, only for Wales to break free to the outside for a large gain. Wales could be remembered as one of the best running backs in school history, and his touchdown records is one that likely won’t be threatened anytime soon.

Training for an NFL tryout has opened up many doors. Recently, Wales has frequently been in the presence of top-tier NFL talent.

“I was training with LeSean McCoy back in Atlanta,” said Wales. “Me and him look almost the same, and he does stuff I like to do. I look at guys like him, you know, different guys that just come out there and have big plays. I just try to be the best I can be.”

McCoy and Wales both had similar body types when they were exiting college. Excited and humbled by the experience, Wales is thankful as he remembers back on his time at WKU.

“When I was in high school, WKU was a school I never even really looked at or anything,” he said. “They weren’t really winning many games, and for us to come here and start this new legacy and start winning, winning some championships and stuff, it’s just great being around town and people knowing who we are and stuff like that. It’s just a great feeling. Like I’ve been saying man, I’m blessed, and I appreciate the time that everyone has given me. I just love that I’m in this situation.”

While Wales anxiously trains this off-season awaiting a phone call from a desperate NFL team, the Bowling Green community will have to adjust to not seeing his iconic number 20 line up in the Hilltopper backfield. 

Reporter Kenton Hornbeck can be reached at 859-445-7702 and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @KentonHornbeck.