As we profiled, James Wilder Junior's commitment means that Florida State is getting one of the best players in the country.
But it is even bigger than that. Aside from Jimmy Clausen, Wilder is arguably the most famous recruit ever. His highlights aren't just watched by recruiting nerds but by people in other countries. Wilder's college choice didn't just make the front page of Yahoo! Sports; it ran as the top story on Yahoo!'s main site (see photo at left). He is universally respected by the other stud players in the country. But for all his notoriety as a player, Wilder has even greater value for what he represents: a recapitalization of credibility for a 'Noles program that is without a winning record in its own conference over the last four years. Wilder represents instant respect for the future of the program. This is a player that nobody thought FSU could land just five months ago. Yet FSU pulled a kid who never saw Warrick Dunn in Garnet and Gold and who probably doesn't remember FSU's last national title. Wilder's commitment served notice to Florida that FSU intends to compete at the highest level. It's notice to the ACC that FSU is again getting players that no other ACC team can hope to land. It's simply a major announcement.
Some Florida writers will dismiss this as a lucky break due to a collection of circumstances. Perhaps, but when a break comes along a team must cash it in. When the opposing pitcher hangs a curveball, you have to hit that pitch over the fence. You just don't know when your next opportunity might come. Florida knows this all too well. Urban Meyer took over a loaded Florida program at a time in which FSU had a coach who couldn't lead and when Miami was just about to begin a rebuilding process. Gator fans can say that FSU grabbed Christian Jones and Christian Green last cycle because of a legacy connection. They can say FSU only snagged Wilder because he didn't believe UF would use him as a running back. Those all might be true. And they are certainly breaks. But that doesn't matter. What matters is FSU cashed in those breaks. UF just brought in what many are calling the best recruiting class ever. To claim that wasn't a result of momentum built and championships won when FSU was asleep at the wheel is preposterous. The 'Noles aren't getting an overabundance of breaks, but they have cashed in the hanging curves of late. Rivals will still win some battles, but UF will no longer be able to treat FSU like a handicapped kid on the playground that is Sunshine-State Recruiting.
Plus, calling Wilder a break is a stretch. Eddie Gran and Lawrence Dawsey worked night and day to land this kid. They simply out-recruited UF for arguably the biggest prize in the state and maybe the country. And the kid grew up a Gator fan. While other schools were going to allow Wilder to play running back, Dawsey and Gran specifically sought Wilder to play running back. Is there any doubt that Wilder sensed the genuineness in Florida State's pitch?
Beyond bringing a new dimension to Florida State's offense, Wilder should also help with some other recruits. Last year LaMarcus Joyner helped recruit for FSU once he committed. And recruits took notice of Jeff Luc's highlights. Combine the dynamic personality of Joyner with the freakish highlights of Luc and you have James Wilder's recruiting package he'll offer to recruits. Every prospect in the country will take note that Wilder chose FSU. Florida State isn't yet "back." But if other elite recruits jump on the bandwagon, it will happen sooner than many think. Look no further than defensive end Giorgio Newberry, who spoke to Reggie Eller shortly after the announcement.
FSU currently has 15 commitments. A stunning 7 are in the ESPNU 150. It's not inconceivable that FSU could finish with 12 players in the ESPNU 150. Florida State should finish with a tremendous class. The only limit on how high it can finish is the number of linemen FSU projects to take, as linemen are typically not highly rated. But Wilder, the biggest commitment Florida State has had in my adult life, should help to make sure that each recruit FSU takes is as talented as possible.