Notebook: Wilder ride coming to an end?


Next week will mark the end of what has been a very long ride for Gator recruiting enthusiasts.

On Aug. 18, Tampa Plant athlete James Wilder Jr. is set to announce his college decision, with Florida, Florida State and Georgia his final three schools. Gator fans have been drooling over Wilder’s highlights for more than a year and have desperately wanted him to be a part of Florida’s 2011 class.

Groveland South Lake cornerback Nick Waisome is also expected to announce the same day on ESPNU. Florida, Florida State, South Carolina, Georgia and LSU are his final schools.

Florida has been high on both players from the beginning and both have had the Gators near the top of their lists for some time.

What appeared to be a day that would become a huge recruiting boost for Florida, now seems to have lost some of its luster. Many still believe that Waisome is leaning toward Florida, but neither he nor his position coach, Terrance Larmond, would reveal much. Waisome is very close to Florida’s coaching staff and even after cornerbacks coach Vance Bedford left, he still kept a strong bond with safeties coach Chuck Heater.

Waisome, one of the top corners in the country, has been to Florida plenty of times in the last year, so he’s very familiar with Florida’s program. If I had a prediction for Wednesday night, I’d go with Waisome choosing Florida. FSU is Florida’s closest competition.

As for Wilder, things have changed drastically. Florida appeared to be the leader for some time, but the fact that the staff originally recruited him as a linebacker made his recruitment a bit shaky. But when the nation’s top athlete wants to play a different position, you make it possible, and that’s what Florida did when the staff started recruiting him as a running back.

Though linebacker seems to be in his future regardless, Wilder is passionate about playing running back in college, even if he figures to grow much more while on campus. He’s already 6-foot-2, 220 pounds.

With only days left until his announcement, FSU has taken the lead, a source with knowledge of the situation told me earlier this week. FSU took over as Wilder’s leader the weekend of Florida’s Friday Night Lights camp when he and his family stayed in Tallahassee longer than expected for an unofficial visit. The same source also said that Florida’s communication with Wilder has slowed since then and the source be would “shocked” if Wilder didn’t commit to FSU next week.

While Wilder could be leaning more and more toward FSU, there’s still time for Florida or Georgia to make a last-minute move. Then again, it is recruiting and a verbal today could mean nothing tomorrow.

Distant visitor?
While speaking with Sammamish, Wash., Skyline wide receiver Kasen Williams at the 2010 Gridiron Kings tournament, he said that even though Florida is thousands of miles away, he’s still very interested in coming to Gainesville for a visit.

He’s had Florida on his list of top schools for a while and said that he’s looking to narrow his list down to five schools before his high school season begins. Florida is expected to be one of those schools. However, Florida’s chances seem slim of landing him if he never makes it to town and as of now, he’s unsure if he’ll have the chance to visit.

Williams has strong ties to Washington, where his parents went to school, and the word is that the Huskies will be hard to beat.

Still, if he gets on Florida’s campus, things could change.

Seferian-Jenkins cuts Gators
After making a brief appearance in Gainesville during Florida’s spring practice, Gig Harbor, Wash., tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins named Florida his top school with Miami trailing. That was was before he sat down and really did some thinking.

Shortly after putting the Gators on top, he removed them and slid Texas into that spot and announced that he was set on attending Texas. However, Seferian-Jenkins, arguably the nation’s top tight end, didn’t have a Texas offer.

When I spoke to him again in Orlando, he told me that he was visiting Texas in early August and even if he got an offer, his recruiting wouldn’t be over. He was still “very interested” in Florida and Miami.

Well, that all changed.

Texas did offer and instead of having three teams fighting for his services, Seferian-Jenkins has two — Texas and Washington. The 6-7, 252-pounder recently told that he knows where he’s committing to on Aug. 16, but wouldn’t go any further.

I’d be shocked if he doesn’t pick Texas.

Running back mess
If Florida does lose out on Wilder, the coaches will likely concentrate on three running backs — Savon Huggins (Jersey City, N.J., St. Peter’s Prep), Mike Blakely (Bradenton Manatee) and Mike Bellamy (Punta Gorda Charlotte).

Huggins is believed to be the top running back on Florida’s board, but a source said Rutgers appears to be his favorite. While Huggins visited Florida earlier this month and gave the school and coaching staff rave reviews, it’s believed that with all the visits he’s made to Rutgers, pulling him away from there could be too hard for any school right now.

Blakely has long been linked to Florida and was rumored to have wanted to commit at Friday Night Lights. That commitment never came, but Blakely still maintains that Florida is his top school. Without a commitment at this point, some are wondering who is exactly waiting in this scenario.

Bellamy battled Huggins for the top spot at running back for Florida, but is currently a Clemson verbal. However, he’s reported to be wavering on his commitment and is looking around. This might not be the best option for Florida because if the staff is willing to wait on him, they might be waiting on nothing because Florida’s depth chart is an issue for Bellamy. Waiting on him could cost them other running backs this season.


  1. Would love to have Wilder in orange and blue but if he’s set on running back maybe it’s not a huge loss. We really need him more as a l-backer anyways. I’m thinking it might be better to be a little thin at running back until 2013 roles around and we’re recruiting Kelvin Taylor.

  2. Verbals mean nothing even if Wilder goes to FSU. Don’t ever count out Meyer and crew. If UF sticks with original plan and keeps winning… while using the RBs more, I’m sure it will be enough to change any rercuits mind. UF molds their scheme and playbook around their personnel.

  3. I agree with you Chomp2wice, the performances and plan for the running backs at UF will change some RB’s minds and make a few sorry they shunned the Gators because of the scheme from years past. I’m sure the coaches have given them heads up on the new scheme and the opportunities that RB’s will have in the new scheme. As far as Wilder, I think all of the Gator Nation would love to have him at RB or LB because he is an outstanding athelete. But if he decides to go else where, the best to him. Sure we think that his best and most opportune spot is on the Gators roster. we think that his best chance to shine and wear more than one CHAMPIONSHIP RING is with the GATORS not the other schools he is considering. I know they are telling him he is the missing piece that will bring them back, and he will be the BIG FISH in the pond. At UF, you can be a BIG FISH among BIG FISH and win CHAMPIONSHIPSSS.

  4. The Gators have lost a lot of great athletes who could provide valuable help at running back because a lot of prospects see Fl as a 90% passing team. It looks that waty as Florida, under a lot of coaches including Spurrier have had multitutes of receivers and only a few running backs. Even last year Fl had to use Tebow extensively as a fullback because there wasn’t that go to tailback, halfback, fullback.”

    I would say that if Wilder wants to play running back and not linebacker good for him. If he’s over 200 pounds now imagine what he would be like as a college player with Marotti’s guidance!!!!!!
    I remember a similar situation years ago when Florida refused a recruit’s desire to play running back and insisted that if he was going to be a Gator he would HAVE to play defense. That recruit eventually went elsewhere and became a star college and professional football tailback. Clinton Portis could have really helped the Gators as a running back but tunnel vision prevented this from happenning. Hope history doesn’t repeat itself!!!!!!!! Wilder could be that go to back that Coach Meyer says he wants a least one “go to back.
    Could be Wilder!

    Also why not the Veer instead of the I all the time!! Two tailbacks, or a tailback and a fullback to immediately hit the line or go out on passes. The I seems so slow to develop and is so predictable. The Veer would be a perfect formation to run the wildcat from too!

  5. I would like to see Wilder Jr. in orange and blue like any other Gator fan. Most of all, I just can’t stand to loose a recruit this big to FSU. Anybody but FSU. That being said I think he goes Fsu for playing time. We wil be ok with Mack and if we pick up Blakey.

  6. I agree with CK. I’d love to have Wilder, but more as a LB mainly b/c I think Taylor will be a better RB, and if we have Brown and Wilder there, Taylor may not head this way. The guy is a physical stud though, so of course I’ll take him at any position 🙂

  7. Hey Paul, why aren’t you the coach @ UF? Oh, that’s right, Meyer’s the coach – good thing!

    If Wilder believes everything thing Jimbo tells him, he’s in for some disappointment! They will slap his butt in that LB position so fast, his head will spin. Meyer, on the other hand, has proven that he keeps his word, once he gives it to a recruit!

  8. What is up with this Wilder at LB stuff????!!!! That would have been like offering Emmit Smith a position at LB. Wilder is a game changing, dominating RB with a combination of power and quickness that would make him an every down back. Losing him, especially to FSU would be a huge blow. Even though he is not a typical speed back like Harvin or Demps, he is a dominating player. Sure hope we can still get him.

  9. I think we’d all love to see Wilder come to Gainesville, but I think we also know that one player isn’t going to make or break this team, with all the talent on it. I will admit, I’m not excited at the prospect of playing against Wilder though, no matter what position he plays. It just makes me wonder what Fisher is telling this kid. Wilder has been a UF lean fo9r a long time, so losing someone late in the process is just a bit baffling, and it concerns me about that ambiguous term “momentum”. As in I don’t want FSU to have any.

  10. I was really hoping Wilder was coming to the Gators, but after reading this it doesn’t seem that way. I sure Pat knows more then most of us so we will have to wait and see. I would never count out the Meyer factor though.

  11. ************************************************************************************************************************************************* MR. WILDER PLEASE COME TO FLORIDA, YOU WILL LOVE YOUR TIME AT FLORIDA AND YOU WILL WIN**************
    *******************DID FLORIDA JUST HAVE A RUNNING BACK JUST GO TO THE HALL OF FAME (MR. SMITH)********************

  12. I am a diehard Nole but I think in this case you guys will land both of them. The success of the last decade has provided you with outstanding recruiting. Just know that the tide will eventually turn in our favor. Its called history!!! The Hurricanes ruled the 80’s, FSU ruled the 90’s and you guys the last decade. IT IS TIME FOR A CHANGE SO THE ONLY QUESTION IS WILL IT BE FSU OR MIAMI’S TURN BACK AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN???
    Dont look back, because there are 2 horses closing in on you.

  13. since when is haveing a 230lb running back in the SEC a bad thing? how about a tunder and lighting combo of wilder and demps/brown? were gonna lose brantly after wilders freshman season, then all the presure lands on incomeing freshman jeff driskel, he is a great lookin qb but, the SEC is much different then the best highschool football in the country. taylor sounds great as a possibility…. but dont count your eggs till they hatch. its not gonna kill us if we miss out on wilder, but if urban meyer WANTS an every down kinda back, in the SEC….. he needs more size at the position…. we gotta a chance at a dude thats gonna end up being about 245lbs with seed to burn! not demps speed… but hes not a sprinter, hes a football player.

  14. Hey Phil, Gator Bowl isn’t an ACC bowl anymore, good call.

    A lot of people considered Wilder a UF lock for a while, interesting. I heard his mom is high on FSU, which usually plays a part in the recruits choice.

  15. Fred said his son will go where he wants and be his own man. Wilder – I new something was wrong when he stayed overnight with his family at FSU over FNL. If he came to FNL first wouldn’t have been a problem. FSU attacked his family to get to him. His family influenced him and made him doubt his commitment to UF was the best choice. We have to do the same faster.

  16. If wilder is looking to a pro career (which he certainly is), wouldn’t his playing time be about twice as long as a LB vs a RB???

    Remember, follow the money! In the end that’s what all these kids are after.

    It would be nice to see a premier RB in our backfield given how Urb’s been pretty succesful with just moderate (and in 06) no talent at tailback.

  17. Hey JC,

    If you haven’t noticed Florida’s short yardage running game has been pretty crummy if not for Tebow. Florida never has, nor does it recruit power runners. Glad you’re not the coach, too!!!!!!!!! We’d certainly be mired in same ‘ol, same ‘ol mediocracy…and never dare share creative thinking. Oops sorry to offend you if I had a thought!!!!! So what, just sit back and never think??!! You do it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Switching gears. Ed, what are you hearing about Leon Orr of New Port Richey? Is he still over 320 pounds? Is he fast enough to play DE or TE? With him at one DE and Jaye Howard at the other, we would have two DEs over three hundred pounds, and very fast. And even though he cannot play this year, how is Chris Martin looking?

  19. The Orlando Sentinel and Tampa Tribune, in their online editions, are reporting that Wilder has committed to Florida State. They quoted him as saying he wanted to go someplace that uses big running backs and
    where he’ll definitely be a running back. I know nothing of Jimbo Fisher’s ethics and promises. It’ll be interesting to see what happens. Hope we won’t face another back like Alabama’s Ingram each year.
    Oh well, there are other fish in the sea, and we need people who really want to and would be proud to be a Gator. I wish him well except when UF plays FSU.