Texas is the Southeastern Conference of high school football states. It's where memes are made, coaches are paid extremely well and winning is sometimes a matter of life and death. So many great players were born and bred in the Lone Star State, like Texas football legends and NFL players Adrian Peterson, Vince Young and Myles Garrett.
It should be no surprise that the top-ranked running backs in each of the 2020 and 2021 recruiting classes hailed from Texas. Zachary Evans was the highest-rated running back from Texas since Peterson, and 2021 top back Camar Wheaton could end up being even better than Evans.
Wheaton played for Garland's Lakeview Centennial High School, where he became the No. 2 running back in the 2021 class, according to 247Sports. He was ranked No. 1 by Rivals. The consensus top-40 overall prospect eventually chose to take his services to an absolute NFL running back factory: Alabama.
RB Camar Wheaton Recruiting
Toughest decision of my life and I was torn and I was completely unsure of which school to attend. Thanks to all my coaches, family, friends, teachers and LC administration. #RollTide @saincilaire @CoachKOMiller @LCHS_Patriots @coachdwes @MikeRoyce @Hayesfawcett3 pic.twitter.com/cpG2NvawG6
— Camar Wheaton (@CamarWheaton) December 24, 2020
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound running back held at least 25 offers from colleges and universities across the nation.
Major college football programs like Alabama, Florida, LSU, Michigan, Georgia, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Tennessee, USC and Ohio State all lined up for him. So did programs throughout the midwest like Texas, Texas A&M, SMU, TCU, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Kansas, Arkansas and Utah.
Wheaton kept quiet about his preferred destination for a while. Even 247Sports hadn't made a guess using their Crystal Ball Predictions by the end of his junior season despite Wheaton visiting campuses at Michigan, Notre Dame and the Texas Longhorns.
One thing is for sure, though: he was a beast out of the backfield for the Lakeview Centennial Patriots. He must be if he received a higher 247Sports composite score than Dalvin Cook, Todd Gurley, Reggie Bush and DeMarco Murray received in high school.
What stood out to Wheaton's coaches is that he didn't act like a normal five-star recruit. He's kept a relatively low profile on his social media accounts, is not all that into interviews and is just a level-headed kid who plays football, despite already receiving his own bobblehead from a local TV station.
The Wolverine's E.J. Holland called him a "unicorn" in the modern football recruiting era.
"You're right with your analysis, he's kind of a unicorn," Lakeview Centennial head coach Kendall Miller told The Wolverine. "A lot of kids that have his talents get arrogance. But he doesn't have it. He's very humble. That makes you want to see him succeed. Because he's the way that he is, we're able to treat him like everybody else on our football team.
"There are a lot of people that could take notes and learn from him about how to handle everything."
Camar Wheaton Highlights
Wheaton has lightning speed in the open field, as you might expect.
Here's Wheaton showcasing that breakaway speed by taking the opening kickoff against Wylie High School to the house.
Wheaton unsurprisingly torched opposing high school defenses. He helped end Garland Lakeview Centennial's 15-game losing streak to Rowlett by rushing for 241 yards and four touchdowns back in 2019.
Wheaton rushed for 1,142 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns during his junior season, according to statistics kept by the Dallas Morning News.
You might say he has a knack for finding the end zone, like he did for a 14-yard touchdown against North Garland in September 2019.
After rushing for more than 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore, Wheaton was on-pace to break through and put up monster numbers during his senior season in 2020 before it was canceled due to COVID-19.
Wheaton had major offers on the table and the college football world watching him. He was able to pick pretty much any college in the country to take his talents to. He chose one with a pretty darn good history of producing NFL running backs.
Camar Wheaton Alabama
— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) February 3, 2021
Wheaton narrowed his decision down to three finalists before picking the Alabama Crimson Tide. Ed Orgeron's LSU Tigers and Lincoln Riley's Oklahoma Sooners were believed to be out in front, but Nick Saban must have worked his magic.
Alabama fans were given a present just before Christmas, as the nation's No. 2 running back officially committed to the Crimson Tide on December 23, 2020.
Wheaton wrote on Twitter that choosing Alabama was the "toughest decision" of his life. That probably won't be the case when he's winning a national championship and on his way to a Heisman Trophy.
"Toughest decision of my life and I was torn and I was completely unsure of which school to attend. Thanks to all my coaches, family, friends, teachers and LC administration. #RollTide," he wrote.
Wheaton waited to commit until after the early signing period, during which head coach Nick Saban reeled in six five-star signees. He signed his letter of intent in February 2021.
Alabama will need to fill the hole left behind after Najee Harris was selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. That could be done with fifth-year running back Brian Robinson Jr., sophomore Jase McClellan, former five-star recruit Trey Sanders or a true freshman like Camar Wheaton.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) March 19, 2021
Only time will tell if Wheaton develops into a Heisman Trophy hopeful, but athletes like him are the reason 'Bama is consistently in the playoff against teams like the Clemson Tigers and Ohio State Buckeyes.
This article was originally published November 7, 2019. It's been updated to track Camar Wheaton's recruitment.
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