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Plant's Wilder chooses Seminoles

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 01:34 PM
TAMPA -

When James Wilder Jr. narrowed his extensive list of college choices to three, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher told Wilder he would sleep a little better knowing the Seminoles made the final list, but he would sleep great if Wilder ultimately picked FSU.

When the Plant High two-way starter called Fisher on Monday, Wilder told the coach he would get a great night of sleep.

Wilder selected the Seminoles over Florida and Georgia, announcing his decision during a ceremony in Plant's auditorium Wednesday.

"When I called and told Coach Fisher, he put me on speakerphone so I could tell all the coaches and they just started screaming," Wilder said. "They screamed for about a minute like kids on Christmas. I eventually had to hang up and call back and ask Coach Fisher if he was OK."

Someone might want to check on Georgia coaches. On Tuesday, an Internet report citing anonymous sources said Wilder was committing to Georgia.

Wilder fed the Georgia rumors when he walked out on the stage dressed in a red sweater vest and black shirt. But when he made his announcement, he bent down behind a tablecloth and popped up wearing a garnet FSU hat. The Seminoles were one of the first schools to recruit Wilder as a running back, and that left an impression.

"I think he's going to be a tremendous running back in college," Plant coach Robert Weiner said. "He's one of those guys that maybe other than kicker or quarterback, if you put him at any spot, he'd be the best guy on the field."

Despite his destructive nature and natural skills on defense, the reigning Hillsborough County sack leader is adamant about playing running back in college. FSU's offensive scheme and the track record of running backs coach Eddie Gran, who has sent several backs to the NFL including Ronnie Brown, Brandon Jacobs and Cadillac Williams, eventually sold Wilder on the Seminoles.

"My dream is to play running back at the next level," said Wilder, who became the first back to rush for 1,000 yards at Plant since Weiner became the head coach in 2004. "It's my passion. Florida State from the beginning was offering me as a running back. Coach Gran got my attention and Coach Fisher, coming from the SEC, he pounded the ball.

"They caught my attention."

Seminoles coaches won't be the only ones sleeping great since they snagged one of the top recruits in the country. Wilder said now that the decision has been made, he feels great and ready for his senior season.

"I'm not changing my mind. I've got my head set," Wilder said. "I feel so relieved. This is a big relief. I won't have to go to sleep thinking I've got to pick between these three schools and worrying about making so many people mad.

"I don't have to think about that anymore. I'm going to sleep great tonight."

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