• John Macon Gillespie

Wadlington Transforms With Ball In Hand

With the numbers the Oxford passing attack put up last season, for the past three seasons, under Jack Abraham, the running game can easily be over looked. In fact, it’s hard to fit a running game into the game plan other than to set up the pass when you can throw it around like Abraham did the last three seasons.

But when running back Drew Bianco went down in the first half of the season in 2015, the Chargers had a bit of a problem. Not for long, though, as sophomore Hiram Wadlington took hold of the spot. He was perhaps the breakout player of last season for the Chargers.

“Over the summer I worked hard and knew I had playing time ahead of me,” Wadlington told SES Mississippi. “For the first four or five games, I was a rotator. Some things happened and I ended being a starter. It was a great opportunity for me. I learned a lot overall”

In the running game Wadlington took advantage of his chances. He finished the season with 896 yards on just 141 carries for a 6.4 yard per carry average and 10 rushing touchdowns. He only received 10 or more carries in six games last season, while rushing for more than 100 yards in four games.

His ability to stretch out of the backfield and catch the football is what really set him apart as the perfect fit at running back for the Charger offense in 2015. He caught 48 passes on the season for 644 yards, 13.4 yards per catch, and four scores. His best game through the air came against Wayne County in the 5A state title game where he caught 9 passes for 197 yard and two scores. One of those touchdowns was a 98-yard catch and run for a critical touchdown in that game.

Wadlington credits his “big brother,” DK Metcalf, for a lot of his success. Metcalf, a senior, who signed with Ole Miss, was the go-to receiver for Oxford last fall.

“Being around DK a lot rubbed off on me,” He explained. “Seeing how hard he worked and what it takes makes me now want to grind harder. DK is a mentor to me because he is a workaholic and he’s all about business.”

“We have a strong relationship on and off the field. I can talk to him about anything. Football, basketball or things that have nothing to do with sports.”

If he is to reach the level Metcalf has, Wadlington knows it will take hard work as he mentioned. He plans to grind at the upcoming Fortius Project combine at ICC on April 30th.

“I’m glad to get this chance,” Wadlington said. “I’m looking to come in and go to work. It’s a great opportunity for me to get some exposure and go against some of the best in Mississippi.”

He says that he will impress most at Fortius when the ball is in his hands.

“It’s a different ‘me’,” He said of when the ball is in his hands. “It’s hard to talk about it without pads on. My main thing is my vision.”

On the other hand, he would like to improve his speed. He says that is his focus this offseason and he is working hard towards that goal.

“I have to get faster and more explosive,” He said. “I also have to become a vocal leader on and off the field.”

As far as for the two seasons he has left at the high school level, he has big plans. Including getting something he just missed out on in 2015.

“I want to get the rushing record. That’s not really a big thing to me, though, I just want to get a state championship,” He explained.

Staying close to God and remaining humble are the things he says he must keep first if he is to accomplish those goals.

**Photo by Keith Warren of the MHSAA.

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