RB or LB?: Let’s Put This Debate To Rest

We can finally put some things to rest.  James Wilder Jr. is not going to USC. He’s not going to Athens to the University of Georgia with former teammates Aaron Murray and Orson Charles. There were no last minute switches, no signature forgeries by disgruntled family or anything outlandish. In fact, the only controversy left surrounding one of the most heralded recruits in Hillsborough County history has most likely been put to bed as well. More on that shortly, but for the record James Wilder is a Seminole.
One of the hottest topics regarding the 6’2” 220lb Running Back/Linebacker is whether or not that frame would actually put him on the fast track towards Outside Linebacker status before his Freshman Season even started. In one corner, (of which I belonged to for quite some time until recently) there are many that feel he’s simply not durable not enough to take 20-25 carries a game. The other faction believes that Wilder is more than capable; his runs characterized by multiple stiff arms and missed tackles reaching near double-digits at times.
“That’s the greatest thing. I can trust Coach Fisher and Coach Gran. Coach Fisher comes from the SEC and knows how to use running backs. Coach Gran has put some unbelievable talent into the league. He knows a good running back when he sees one. They recruited me to play running back from the start and said they weren’t even switching me to linebacker,” said Wilder.
It would be hard to refute Wilder’s assessment of Eddie Gran’s pedigree. Under his tutelage Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown, Brandon Jacobs, and Montario Hardesty have all seen their careers go from names on a Recruiting Hot Board to an NFL Draft Board and beyond.
As for the ongoing debate, it’s all starting to make sense now. During his ceremony for the signing of his National Letter of Intent, his highlight film reminding us exactly what kind of man amongst boys he really was, those in attendance started cheering as loudly as the first time they saw it. His runs looked like Bo Jackson in his Tecmo Bowl days. Defenders were bouncing (literally) off his pads. Brutal stiff arms were administered without proper warning causing even the visitors to quietly give their proper respects.
At this moment, it hit me like he hit the Manatee Defensive Backs in his legendary run in the 2009 Finals. Even if he doesn’t set the record books ablaze, he may in fact prove to be one of the most valuable players in his recruiting class.
As far as that goes, James is not going to get caught up in the glamour and glitz of his star ranking, or any of the others in the #1 Ranked class of 2011. “I don’t look at the stars. Can’t let that go to your head, you can be a Five Star recruit and get your jockstrap knocked off in college.” He also stressed the importance of remaining humble and focused with all of the expectations surrounding him. “I’ve got to treat this like I’m back in middle school going into high school again. I’m at the bottom of the mountain again.”
Somebody should stay out of his way. You don’t want Mr. Wilder to make you a star in his videos. It’s not going to end well.