The ceremony began with some brief statements from Plant head coach Robert Weiner and was quickly followed by Wilder's highlight tape. Some of the plays on the film were draw dropping, particularly his ability to just punish defenders as a running back.
Coach Weiner than took some time to talk about Wilder the person, he talked about the tremendous character and work ethic that Wilder possesses and how he is a team guy. One thing that sticks out about Wilder is his passion for the game, he plays both ways and is one of the most active players you will find. He seems to relish contact. Weiner added "he is the most famous high school player in the country."
He is in better shape than most to know as his string of D-1 players is almost matching his incredible record on the field.
Plant has sent Robert Marve(Purdue via Miami), Rhonne Sanderson(FSU), Orson Charles/Aaron Murray(Georgia), and Eric Dungy(Oregon) the last four years to high BCS schools. This year Wilder is joined by team mates Tony Posada(Michigan) and Phillip Ely(Alabama).
After Weiner's kind words it was time for Wilder to take the "center stage" and he put on a splendid performance. Anyone who has stood up in front of a large crowd knows how difficult it can be, but Wilder knocked it out this evening. He showed a playful, charismatic personality and it was clear why he is seen as a leader. His sense of humor was on display as he threw a pair of curveballs at the crowd.
Twice he announced that he was ready to make a decision, he would lean down as if he was grabbing for a hat, then pop back up with there "are more people to thank." By the third time, he was ready to go, ""I want to announce that I will be playing college football at Florida State." Thunderous applause ensued as Wilder flashed his million dollar smile.
As is customary at Plant, after a few minutes Wilder opened it up to more questions and went into depth about his decision.
Speaking of Florida State, "They definitely know how to get people to the next level. Coach Fisher knows how to use his running back's, and Coach Gran has nine running back's at the next level right now."
Speaking about Coach Lawrence Dawsey who is from the Tampa area including an NFL career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneer's, "he is more of a family friend than a coach, most of these coaches you have to gain a trusting bond with, but I already had that bond with him."
Another factor that certainly played in FSU's favor was that they were a little late to the party in the recruitment of Wilder. Normally this is a negative, but it seems to have helped in this case. While UF was making in-roads when he was a sophomore and early in his junior year, the Noles were largely a non-factor.
However the coaching change at FSU brought new life and coincided with the time when Wilder announced he wanted to play running back. Most of the schools who were recruiting him had him pegged as a linebacker. They were forced to change gears while FSU always liked him at the RB spot. "Of the three, Florida was the first to offer me, but it was as a linebacker/defensive end, they never really mentioned running back, until I did. Florida State from the start wanted me at running back." He went on to state that he is going to FSU as a running back, the coaches know he wants to be a running back, and they want him at running back. This should end all speculation as to his future position.
Wilder discussed other factors that helped him with his decision, "The class that they signed last year was just unbelievable, a lot of great players, and those are the guys I want to be around."
This is simply a huge pick-up for Florida State and words don't accurately describe the need for a "win" over UF on the recruiting trail. They got one and will look to build on it with future recruiting success. He becomes their 15th verbal for the 2011 class and third running back in the fold. Wilder can now focus on his senior year and getting another state title for the Panthers.