Friday night's preseason scrimmage between Tampa-Plant and Bradenton-Manatee was the first chance for many Florida State fans got to see 5-star James Wilder play live. ESPN showed the game live, putting a spotlight on the rematch from last year's 5A state final.
The game didn't turn out like many had thought, as Manatee rode a strong defense and Mike Blakely to a 48-10 blow out win.
For FSU fans, and people who follow recruiting around the nation, the talk after was about James Wilder's performance. Many expected him to come out and dominate like he did in the state final last year. While he didn't have the stats, it is a little preposterous reading some of the thoughts coming from fans of college football regarding Wilder's performance.
15 carries for 86 yards is not astonishing, especially when compared to the game Blakely had, but neither is it the poor performance many have made it seem. Was the one game last night really indicative of James as a player? Hardly. Could he have protected the ball better? Sure. But that is an easy fix.
NoleDigest will let it play out. First, this is James' second year at running back. Secondly, Wilder was running just fine when Phillip Ely was in the game. When Ely hurt the ankle, Manatee did a good job boxing Wilder in and scheming to shut the Plant offense down. Manatee's front 7 put it to Plant's offensive line. Ely going out played a significant role last night as we saw the offense shut down without the threat of a passing attack.
James started slowly last year, but turned it on to help carry Plant to their state title last year. Calm down, turn on some film of James, and watch a kid who is without a doubt one of the nation's finest players. Wilder wasn't pleased with the game, saying he was "embarrassed". Look for him to have a great senior year. Who knows, maybe we'll see the two teams meet again in this year's playoffs.
Regardless of what other fanbases and some "experts" think, FSU landed a truly elite player in James. FSU fans should be ecstatic.
NoleDigest Take: Plant vs Manatee
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