If they shared the same backfield, Abilene’s Herschel Sims and Plant’s James Wilder Jr. would complement each other ideally, offering more thunder (Wilder) and lightning (Sims) than a late-August Florida sky. From stature to style to even speed, the two represent a glaring contrast in ball-carrying proficiency. Sims’ moves are poetic, Wilder’s are punishing. Heck, even their jersey numbers are opposites. Speaking of which, look for these opposites to attract a majority of the ESPNU airtime when their teams square off tonight.
Jersey number: 23
Nickname: Mr. All Day
Size: 5-9, 190
Speed: 4.45 in the 40-yard dash, according to Scout.com
Stats: Has run for 246 yards on 30 carries in two games, missing his team’s 24-21 loss to Cocoa with a separated shoulder. As a junior, Sims ran for 2,352 yards and 33 TDs, leading Abilene (15-0) to the Class 5A Division II state title.
College: Committed to Oklahoma State
How he runs: Ninety-five percent of the highlight clips we saw of Sims featured him spotting a crease near the line of scrimmage, darting through it and outrunning the secondary to the end zone. We assume his low center of gravity makes it hard to tackle him, but no one on the videos we watched really got a hand on him.
Has been compared to: LaDainian Tomlinson
Quotable: “(Sims and Wilder are) both great players, but very different players. Herschel is more of the natural running back at the next level and might have more of the top-end speed, while Wilder plays more like a linebacker as a running back.” — Dallas Jackson, Rivals.com senior high school analyst
James Wilder Jr.
Jersey number: 32
Size: 6-2, 220
Speed: 4.65 in the 40-yard dash, according to Scout.com
Stats: Has 41 carries for 283 yards and three TDs. Last season, Wilder ran for 1,004 yards and 15 TDs, and collected 136 tackles (19 of them sacks) on defense.
College: Committed to Florida State
How he runs: Like an agitated bronco in cleats. Though strikingly fast for his size, Wilder prefers to lower his head and pummel you. His touchdown run last season at Lakeland, where he carried seemingly a half-dozen Dreadnaughts with him into the end zone, is part of YouTube lore.
Has been compared to: His dad, James Wilder Sr.
Quotable: “He’s a great player. To play both ways at that level, at the 5A level, is impressive. You don’t see that in Texas very often.” — Abilene coach Steve Warren