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The Final Cockdown: #22, Brandon Wilds

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The Gamecocks' running back returns for his final season. Can he fill some big shoes?

Brandon Wilds
RS Senior

Tailback 
6'2'' / 216 lbs
Blythewood, S.C. (Blythewood)

Recruitment:
Consensus three-star prospect. Fifth-ranked fullback of the 2011 class.

Five offers, most notably Illinois and Maryland. Considered one of the most undervalued recruits the Gamecocks have signed in recent years.

College career:

Wilds's crazy 2011 (freshman) season is well-documented among Carolina fans. Despite immediately earning the coaches' praise in fall camp in 2011 for both his running ability and skill in catching the ball out of the backfield, he began the season fifth on the depth chart. However, early injuries to Shon CarsonKenny Miles, and Eric Baker meant that Wilds was called upon to be Marcus Lattimore's sidekick by the fourth game (Vandy). After Lattimore season-ending injury (Miss St.), Wilds had the starting job against Tennessee alongside a young Connor Shaw. Carolina fans were nervous, but Wilds would torch the Vols for 137 yards en route to a win and backed it up against Florida with 120 yards a few weeks later. Eventually, Kenny Miles took over to finish out the season, but Wilds' performance in the face of adversity played a huge role in Carolina's first eleven-win season.

Wilds took a medical redshirt in the 2012 season due to a high-ankle sprain, but came back to play a key role in the 2013 season. Despite playing in only seven contests, Wilds would score huge touchdowns against Georgia, and Clemson, with the latter being named the #7 play of the Gamecocks' 2013 season.

Last season, Wilds played the role of backup to Mike Davis, rushing for 501 yards and four touchdowns in 12 games. Despite having a solid, but unimpressive, year on the field, he still had a flair for the dramatic, carrying in the eventual game-winning touchdown against the Georgia Bulldogs in Williams-Brice, and scoring on a great play in a thrilling game in Gainesville. Rumors were that Wilds would possibly enter the NFL Draft, but he chose to return to Columbia for his fifth-year senior season as the prohibitive favorite to be the number one option at running back.

2015 Outlook:

The Gamecocks have a fairly uphill task in replacing Mike Davis in the backfield. Seemingly limited options at the quarterback position are going to place added significance on the run game. Wilds and David Williams are a good tandem duo that will compete for the starting position. With backup in the form of Shon Carson, Rod Talley, Devin Potter, and (hopefully not) A.J. Turner, look for the Gamecocks to focus on the downhill run, with Wilds playing the role of the fast-break game changer. The key is for Wilds to stay healthy, battling injury throughout his last three years is a concern, but if he can make it on the field in all thirteen (fingers crossed) games this season, be sure that Brandon Wilds will make some memories.

Trivia:
Did you know that Brandon Wilds is an Interdisciplinary Studies major? Does anyone know what Interdisciplinary Studies even is?