Marquel Wade's status as a member of the Arkansas football team has been in doubt ever since the rising sophomore receiver was arrested in May for residential burglary.
Apparently, that doubt has been removed.
According to Adam Alter of KNWA/KARK Razorback Nation, Arkansas head coach John L. Smith confirmed that Wade will not be part of the Hogs this season.
John L Smith says don't expect to see Marquel Wade this season— Adam Alter (@Adam_Alter) July 26, 2012
Smith said at SEC Media Days that any player not listed in the newly-released media guide is not part of the team. Wade wasn't listed. That was the party line that Smith had been toeing for a while, but now it appears as official as it can be.
Wade's absence will be a huge blow to the Razorbacks.
He emerged as a big-time receiver weapon during spring practice, and was being counted on to fill the void left by Joe Adams. He caught six passes in Arkansas' spring game for 136 yards and one touchdown, which solidified his spot as the "next man up," after Adams, Jarius Wright and Greg Childs left.
Quarterback Tyler Wilson still has big-time threats with wide receiver Cobi Hamilton and tight end Chris Gragg, but Wade's ability to get open and make things happen after the catch was a big part of the plan for offensive coordinator Paul Petrino.
There is a Plan B though.
According to Robbie Neiswanger of the ArkansasNews.com, backup quarterback Brandon Mitchell is now an option to play wide receiver.
Interesting, Paul Petrino said Tyler Wilson and Brandon Mitchell came to him with idea of Mitchell playing WR. He will get looks in camp.— Robbie Neiswanger (@NWARobbie) July 26, 2012
At 6'4", 230 pounds, Mitchell certainly has the size to make an impact in the passing game. He was a big-time dual-threat quarterback in high school, and that athleticism will pay dividends if he does see some time at wide receiver.
Whatever Arkansas does, the news that Wade won't be on the team is a big loss to the Razorbacks. He was being counted on in 2012.