Some of Anthony “Ace” Wales’ favorite football memories include two state championships won at WKU’s Smith Stadium.
Now, the nationally ranked running back from Louisville Central High School is making a return trip to Bowling Green, this time for an official recruiting visit.
Wales, the 14th-rated all-purpose running back in the nation according to Rivals.com, told the Herald he plans to visit WKU sometime during the Jan. 20-22 weekend.
That trip will come one weekend after he goes to Lexington for his official visit at the University of Kentucky.
Wales said UK and WKU, along with his hometown Louisville Cardinals, were his top three choices of where to play in the fall.
He’s already visited U of L, where he said he had “a nice time.”
Wales said several other programs have also offered him, including Illinois and Indiana.
The 5-foot-9 running back amassed over 8,000 career rushing yards at Central, and scored 45 touchdowns during the 2011 season.
Wales described his biggest strength as his “vision and awareness.”
“I always know where the defenders are, who’s in front of me, who’s chasing me basically,” he said.
A multisport athlete, Wales qualified for the Kentucky state championships in track his junior year in the 100 meter, 200 meter, 4×100 and 4×400 relays.
He also started at point guard for Central’s basketball team as a junior.
Wales said his athletic abilities were identified at a young age, thus his nickname, “Ace.”
“I got the nickname growing up in Little League football,” he said. “One of the coaches named me ‘Ace’ for ‘Ace in the Hole,’ and its stuck with me ever since then.”
But when stepping back and evaluating all his success in multiple sports, football sticks out for Wales.
“One of my best memories from high school was playing in Papa Johns Stadium, versus a big team from Tennessee,” Wales said. “That was an outstanding game.”
In that game he led his team to a 47-34 win over Goodpasture Christian High School (Tenn.) with more than 240 yards rushing and six touchdowns (four rushing, one receiving, and one on a kick return).
But Wales said he also has great memories from Central’s two 3A state championships won at Smith Stadium, including his 244 rushing yards on just 19 carries (a 12.8 yards per carry average) during a 46-7 win over Belfry High School in 2010. Wales also added two touchdowns in that game.
“It was really nice getting to play at WKU,” he said. “It was a great experience for me. They have a great stadium.”
Wales said his final decision would likely come down to his relationship with the coaches, and what current and former players from each college say about their experiences.
“(WKU Head Coach Willie) Taggart, it seems like everything he says is real,” he said. “You know, all coaches are going to brag on their schools, but I really think the stuff Coach Taggart says is real.
“But I also know a few players at each school (Louisville, Kentucky and WKU), and I want to ask them how they feel about their decisions. I want to ask if they could do it all over again, would they make the same decision?”
Wales said he had an in-depth conversation with former All-American WKU running back Bobby Rainey.
“He talked to me about coming into college, and his decision about where he wanted to go… he wanted to go somewhere he’d be able to shine,” he said. “Now they’ve been feeding him the rock the last couple of years, his rushing finished very high in the NCAA.”