Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Colleges

Wilder leaving FSU early to enter NFL draft

Florida State and former Plant High running back James Wilder is turning pro.

Three days after helping FSU win its third national title, the 6-foot-2, 229-pound Wilder announced via Instagram that he will forgo his senior season to enter the NFL draft:

"I wanna first thank GOD my family the whole nole nation and nole fam my brothers my coaches for being able to put me in a blessed situation to be able to continue my dream on to the next level and being able to enter the NFL..I had the best 3 years of my life being a nole and will always be a nole at heart that being said GO NOLES!!!!!"

Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, a second-team All-American, also will forgo his senior season. He led FSU with 11 tackles for loss this past season, his first as a full-time starter, and is widely projected as a first-round pick.

Wilder, the son of Bucs all-time leading rusher James Wilder, entered FSU as one of the country's top prospects.

The five-star recruit earned two-time All-Suncoast defensive player of the year honors from the Tampa Bay Times. As a senior at Plant, he rushed for 1,600 yards and 22 touchdowns and recorded eight sacks.

Wilder was honorable mention All-ACC this season and ran three times for 21 yards in Monday's 34-31 BCS title win over Auburn. He was FSU's third-leading rusher with 583 yards on 81 carries.

Wilder, projected as a fourth- or fifth-round pick by cbssports.com, ends his collegiate career with 1,358 rushing yards and 22 total touchdowns.

Last week he said he was strongly considering leaving school early and thought about the NFL a lot over winter break.

"That's everybody's dream," Wilder said. "You're going to think about it when you're watching the games. You think about that being you on the field and stuff like that. You definitely think about it before you go to sleep, staring at the ceiling."

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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