Akrum Wadley worked hard for a way out of Newark, NJ. It's shown itself to be an unforgiving town where crime runs rampant.
"There are dangerous things," Wadley said. "It's easy to get engaged with a lot of negative things if you don't have hope. That's why I'm so excited to get away."
The Class of 2013 running back announced on Sunday that he would be accepting a scholarship offer from Iowa, where he officially visited this weekend. Wadley played for a coach at Weequahic High, Brian Logan, who is a Newark police detective whose responsibilities go beyond teaching blocking and tackling.
"This is a great opportunity," Wadley said. "It doesn't come by every day. For me to have this opportunity to get away from Newark and show younger people that there's a positive way out, is great. My younger brothers are playing football."
Wadley, who recently verbally committed to Temple late last month, first heard from Iowa in mid-December.
"I got a call from Coach (Kirk) Ferentz and he was telling me that they were very interested in me," the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Wadley said. "He was good friends with (Former Iowa Assistant Frank) Verducci, who told him about me. He told me he was going to stay in contact with me."
Wadley rushed for 1,326 yards and 20 touchdowns on 102 carries as a senior. He also caught nine passes for 171 yards and three scores and returned two punts for touchdowns. Still, he was lightly recruited.
After his initial contact with Ferentz, he didn't hear from Iowa for a few weeks, he said. Hawkeye Assistant Darrell Wilson then stopped by the school but didn't have an offer to extend to him.
"It felt like years," Wadley said. "I was a little stressed out. I didn't know where I would end up and then Temple came to my school two weeks ago. They offered me on the spot."
Wadley visited the Philadelphia school and committed.
"It felt like Newark," Wadley said. "It's city life. The next day, Coach Ferentz came to my school. He told me that if they brought me out on a visit, he's offering me."
The Iowa coach said he would be in touch. On Thursday, Ferentz phoned Wadley.
"I was getting dressed for school," Wadley said. "I got that call from Iowa. I said, 'wow.'"
Wadley was hoping for an Iowa opportunity since the first time he spoke with Ferentz. It made for an anxious time.
"I was worried," he said. "I stayed up some nights stressing."
After receiving the call from Ferentz on Thursday, Wadley made quick arrangements to visit Iowa on the next day. He fell in love with the place.
"It's so much different from what people were telling me," Wadley said. "People that hadn't even been to Iowa were telling me it's all country and corn fields. They told me I wasn't going to like it.
"I was curious. I like to see things for myself. I didn't see any corn fields in Iowa City. I saw big buildings and they're building new things. I saw malls out here. It was nothing like what I had heard about."
Hawkeye Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis showed Wadley film of former Hawkeye running back Shonn Greene this weekend.
"They see me working out of the I but also as someone that can move up into the slot," Wadley said. "They want to work me around."
Wadley said he was "pretty fast" but had not had a 40-yard dash timed recently. He plans to run track this spring for the first time since junior high.
Wadley, who is headed for a communications major with the goal of being a sports broadcaster, wants to make the most of his opportunity of getting out of Newark.
"I know when I get there I'm going to go all out and work my hardest," he said. "I like winning. I like to be part of the winning.
"I'm a team player. I'm not a selfish player."