Minor League Sports

Marquel Wade quickly becomes go-to playmaker for Cedar Rapids Titans

Wade, Titans (1-3) host the Iowa Barnstormers (2-1) Saturday at the U.S. Cellular Center

Cedar Rapids Titans’ Marquel Wade falls into the end zone as he celebrates his unchallenged touchdown during the second quarter of their Indoor Football League game against the Nebraska Danger at the U.S. Cellular Center in northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Monday, March 19, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Titans’ Marquel Wade falls into the end zone as he celebrates his unchallenged touchdown during the second quarter of their Indoor Football League game against the Nebraska Danger at the U.S. Cellular Center in northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Monday, March 19, 2018. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Marquel Wade snared the six-yard pass, turned upfield and zipped 29 more yards for a touchdown.

Whether it was Monday’s score against Nebraska or a 6 a.m. practice drill, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Cedar Rapids speedster has made quite an impression in his two-plus weeks with the Titans and first-year Coach Marvin Jones.

“The thing about him, every time he catches the ball, whether it is a five-yard route or a 10-yard route, he turns and runs it all the way down to the end of the field,” said Jones, who will lead the Titans (1-3) in an Indoor Football League game against the Iowa Barnstormers (2-1) Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center. “He practices that way, so it’s no surprise that he goes out there and does it. ... He practices the way he plays.”

Wade has totaled 10 receptions for 137 yards and six touchdowns in two games with the Titans. His scores have often come in spectacular fashion. In addition to his catch-and-run Monday against Nebraska, Wade had two leaping grabs in the corner of the end zone for scores, one with just one hand.

“I’ve learned how to use my speed to my advantage, “Wade said. “When to break on routes, when not to break on routes.”

Wade credits his practice habits to his time playing for Bobby Petrino at Arkansas, where he was named to the 2011 SEC All-Freshman team for a team that finished 11-2 and won the Cotton Bowl. A promising career with the Razorbacks was cut short when Wade and two teammates were arrested in May 2012 for burglarizing campus dormitory rooms.

Wade was handed a six-month sentence with the Arkansas Department of Community Correction and was also given 60 months of supervised probation.

“I took a lot from that experience,” Wade said. “I was young, so my maturity level had to grow.”

Wade resumed his football career in 2014 at Butler (Kan.) Community College, where he tallied 408 receiving yards and three scores. With two years of college eligibility remaining, Wade joined the IFL with the Nebraska Danger and accounted for 534 all-purpose yards and five TDs in two seasons.

He was set to join the outdoor Major League Football league in August 2017 and trained in his hometown of Jacksonville, Fla., along with two current Titans — quarterback Jake Medlock and receiver Javon Bell — but the outdoor league was grounded before it could begin.

Wade took his game back indoors last season with former Titans Coach Mark Stoute and the Jacksonville Sharks of the National Arena League, but he tore an MCL three games into the season.

He considered a return to Nebraska for the 2018 season when a call from Bell and Medlock reversed his route.

“I was in Nebraska and I didn’t sign,” Wade said. “They called me, they said I had a better opportunity here to make plays and do what I have to do to help the team out.”

Wade and the other receivers are the beneficiaries of a fantastic start by Medlock, who has thrown for a league-high 769 yards and 14 TDs without an interception in four games.

“He’s got the game already down pat,” Wade said. “He’s just making my job a lot more easier. Just tell me where to run at and I’ll just be there.”

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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