Florida State's James Wilder tells recruit he might turn pro


Washington (Pa.) High running back Shai McKenzie told 247sports.com that on his recruiting visit to Florida State this past weekend, Florida State tailback James Wilder Jr. said he and fellow junior tailback Devonta Freeman could turn pro early.

"He told me that him and Freeman could be leaving after this year, so it is a good opportunity for myself to come in and play early," McKenzie told the website.

McKenzie also said Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher told him FSU has a need at running back.

While Freeman is FSU's leading rusher (639 yards, eight touchdowns), Wilder (268 yards, four touchdowns) is considered a better pro prospect.

Freeman (5-foot-9, 203 pounds) led FSU in rushing with 579 yards as a true freshman in 2011 and was second last season with 660 yards while again sharing time at the position. While he lacks elite speed, the squatty Freeman usually can turn the corner. He hasn't shown he can be an effective receiver, and he has had at least 15 carries in a game just seven times in his career, so it's unknown whether he can handle a heavy workload.

Wilder (6-2, 229) has run for 1,063 yards and 16 TDs in his career. He is a tough, physical runner with good speed, but he's not a shifty guy; instead, he runs over people. He also played linebacker in high school and some colleges thought he was better-suited for that position. Wilder has developed into a competent receiver, but his blocking must improve. In addition, he never has had to deal with a heavy workload; in 33 career games, he has carried the ball at least 15 times just once and has only seven games with double-digit carries. Five of his 16 TDs have come against FCS opponents.

Wilder, who was a national top-30 prospect out of high school in Tampa, where his dad, James Wilder, was a running back for the Buccaneers from 1981 to '89. Wilder Jr. has had off-field issues and was arrested three times for minor offenses between February 2012 and January 2013.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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