The Final Cockdown: #22 Brandon Wilds

2013 marks the return of Brandon Wilds. - Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

After a strategic redshirt year, 2011's most unlikely playmaker returns to the backfield.

Brandon Wilds
Redshirt Sophomore Running Back
6'2", 223 lbs.
Blythewood, SC

Recruitment:
247 listed him as a two-star fullback, was their 5th ranked FB in the 2011 class; Scout rated him the nation's 115th-best (!) RB of the 2011 class
Other offers: Arkansas, East Carolina, Illinois, Maryland

College Career:
It's August of 2011, and South Carolina's set to begin fall camp, coming off a semi-miraculous season during which it upset #1 Alabama, trounced Florida in Gaineseville, and reached the SEC Championship game. Sophomore Marcus Lattimore looks to build on his freshman All-American season. Mega-recruit Jadeveon Clowney is about to step into the limelight. Stephen Garcia's had another tumultuous off-season, and the whispers indicate that he might lose the starting spot to sophomore Connor Shaw. Lost in all this is a young man from 20 miles down the highway, a lightly-recruited, soft-spoken back who some thought might as well have slipped into a redshirt as soon as he faxed his NLI. And why not? He was fifth on the fall depth chart, after all. But injuries to a few of the backs ahead of him indicated Wilds could end up getting a touch here and there. Wilds showed enough promise to avoid a redshirt, appearing in the special teams unit and even getting a few touches against Vanderbilt and Kentucky. On October 15th, Marcus Lattimore blew out his knee and, like a plot twist in a cheesy teen sports film, the true freshman from Blythewood was now a starting SEC running back. As we all know, Wilds made much of his opportunity, amassing three 100-yard games. Who could forget that 98-yard, 11.5-minute drive at Tennessee that saw Wilds rush for 55 of his game-high 137 yards?

It's worth noting that besides his three big games (which came against terrible Florida and Tennessee teams and the Citadel), he was relatively quiet against the likes of Arkansas and Clemson, and by season's end was backing up a healthy Kenny Miles. So, there's your sobering perspective lest we be accused of overstating Wilds' legend.

2012 Stats:
Wilds sprained his ankle prior to the season and the decision was made to redshirt, allowing true freshman Mike Davis to back up Kenny Miles and Marcus Lattimore. Thankfully, the coaches were able to avoid burning Wilds' redshirt after Lattimore's injury.

2013 Outlook:
The aforementioned caveat isn't to say we aren't allowed to harvest any positives from what Wilds accomplished as a freshman—running for 100+ yards in Neyland Stadium is impressive from any angle—and he's now got another year of playbook knowledge and conditioning under his belt. If you need more concrete fodder for excitement, consider that Wilds—not Connor Shaw, Mike Davis, Bruce Ellington or Jerell Adams—earned the Joe Morrison Offensive Player of the Spring award. Wilds is expected to split carries with Mike Davis, although as we stated in Davis' preview, it wouldn't surprise us to see Spurrier skew the touches in favor of the hot hand. Wilds is tall and heavy—listed at 6'2", 223 lbs., and his powerful running style combined with that of the explosive, cannonballish Mike Davis will make for some serious downhill running displays.

Trivia:
Was the first player in Blythewood High School history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.

Possible Todd Ellis play-by-play call:
"Shaw goes under center, and he hands it off to Wilds, who finds room, and BOOM! He greets Jordan Jenkins with a right shoulder, rendering the five-star recruit horizontal, and Wilds will continue unimpeded into the end zone! Touchdown Carolina! Folks, that hit was more 'Bone Broke' than 'Tone-Lōc', but everybody in Gamecock Country loves when Brandon does his Wilds Thing!"

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