Wilder makes his choice

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If you read USA Today the other day, you learned that James Wilder, the No. 1 player in the nation in my judgment, had committed to Florida State during a lengthy press conference that had all the trappings of a LeBron James/Jim Gray/ESPN extravaganza.

Wilder, from Tampa, Fla., and the son of a former player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, chose Florida State over Florida and Georgia. In my view, he is the No. 1 player in the nation, the No. 1 linebacker and one of the top three running backs in the class of 2011.

He reminds me of Derrick Brooks, an All-NFL linebacker with the Buccaneers who once played at Florida State. He is Florida State's biggest catch since Urban Meyer became head coach at Florida, a difference-maker on offense or defense, wherever he chooses to play.

But did Wilder have to orchestrate his announcement with such fanfare? He and his family arranged for his own television special. It took 23 minutes into the program before he finally made his commitment, much as LeBron James did on ESPN before revealing his decision to leave Cleveland for Miami.

I don't have a problem with kids conducting press conferences to announce their commitments. It is a big decision in their lives, a big moment. But these announcements are getting out of hand. Enough is enough.This isn't the State of the Union.

It shows how high school imitates college and pro. In all of my 30-plus years in this business, I never have heard of a kid making an announcement at this time of year, so early. Usually, the blue chippers announce closer to or on signing day in February.

But what all of this really says is recruiting is big business. It is all about money, not about education. Wilder, who led his Tampa Plant team to the state championship last year, used his ranking as the No. 1 player in the nation to imitate LeBron James. Who's next?

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This page contains a single entry by Second Season published on August 22, 2010 12:12 PM.

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