Plant five-star recruit James Wilder Jr. ended weeks of speculation Wednesday evening by committing to Florida State.
A consensus All-American, Wilder is the No. 3 ranked prospect in the nation by Rivals.com and No.1 overall by MaxPreps. He had his field narrowed down to Florida State, Florida and Georgia last week.
On Tuesday, an online report emerged that Wilder would select Georgia, where two former Plant standouts – quarterback Aaron Murray and tight end Orson Charles – currently play, but in the end Wilder chose to stay in state and become a Seminole.
Wilder took the stage wearing Georgia’s colors, donning a red sweater vest over a black polo shirt. He reached under a table twice before pulling out a Florida State hat and smiling to his first tomahawk chop.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound manchild ran for 1,004 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior. On defense he tallied 136 tackles, 19 sacks and 42 tackles for a loss, helping the Panthers to the Class 5A state championship.
Wilder has made it clear he wants to play running back in college.
Wilder made his announcement in front of hundred of supporters in Plant’s auditorium. Before he made his announcement, a highlight reel of Wilder’s highlights was played to the background of “It’s My Time” by Fabolous.
“He’s one in a million, one of a kind as a football player,” Plant coach Robert Weiner said. “If he walked in during the NFL combine, no one would bat an eye. He’s one who has a personality who smiles and laughs often and often and often.”
Even though he is committed, Wilder’s pledge isn’t binding until he signs a letter of intent in early February.
-- EDUARDO A. ENCINA