College football's next power running back may reside in Memphis, Tenn., but it remains to be seen if he will stay in the South.
Ties to Ohio and Nashville may prove significant when Jordan Wilkins chooses what college he'll play for. The standout from Cordova (Tenn.) St. Benedict already has 10 scholarship offers, including Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Michigan and Purdue.
Yet there is one school that hasn't offered the Watch List back a scholarship that could prove a factor in his recruitment. While the 6-foot-2, 205-pound tailback would like to play in the SEC, Ohio State has a distinct allure.
"That's where half of my family is from," Wilkins said. "That was big when I heard Urban Meyer got the job there. I grew up an Ohio State fan all my life. I kind of would rather play in the SEC but I just need to go up there and see how it is and meet the coaches."
Other connections could also prove key in Wilkins' recruitment. Aside from Ohio State, there is a strong tie to Vanderbilt, where his brother, Trey, is a sophomore wide receiver.
"That's pretty tempting because I played with him my whole life," Wilkins said. "He said he loves it. He said there's a lot to do in Nashville. He said he loves the coaches and he said he'd like for me to come there so we could play together again.
"That might be a big factor. It's not too far away. The coaches are great. They're saying I could come in and compete for a starting position."
It wouldn't be the first time Vandy raided the Bluff City for a top tailback prospect. It did so last year when the Commodores landed Brian Kimbrow from East High School. Kimbrow's presence doesn't scare away Wilkins. In fact, the two could complement one another.
"[Vanderbilt coaches] say he's more of a scatback," Wilkins said. "He can roll. He can fly. When they want to go outside, they can hand it to him. When they want the harder yards, they said they could give the ball to me."
Where Wilkins plays football remains to be seen. What isn't in question is his athleticism. It didn't take long for St. Benedict coach Michael Davidson to see it.
"It took about 10 minutes to see he was going to be a starting running back for us," Davidson said.
"He's got size and amazing speed. He's been clocked below a 4.5 [in the 40-yard dash]. His feet are some of the best I've seen. But I think what kind of puts him above everybody else is his work ethic. He's one of the hardest workers we have in the weight room," Davidson said. "He has just a great attitude."
Last season, Wilkins ran for over 1,500 yards but may have best established himself when St. Benedict played Carver. He touched the ball only four times, but scored on each. Wilkins returned a kickoff and punt for a touchdown, caught a pass for a touchdown and, as is most customary, scored via a handoff.
The success, however, doesn't mean Wilkins is perfect. Far from it. He has tweaked his game along the way to maximize his ability.
"When I was in middle school, I'd just run to the side, cut back [and] run to the other side," Wilkins said. "My freshman year it took a little adjusting because I was always wanting to run sideline to sideline. I had to adjust and get upfield first.
"A lot of people say I run like Darren McFadden. He's a bigger running back that played at Arkansas. I kind of resemble him a little bit. I watch his tape all the time. I think we run kind of alike."
Wilkins has given no strong indication when he'll choose a school, saying only that he'll decide when the time is right. He says he's looking for a stable coaching staff and the ability to compete for early playing time.
Whether he runs north, south, east or west remains to be seen.