All fun and games for James Wilder

TAMPA, Fla. -- Four-star running back James Wilder (Tampa, Fla./Plant) knew where he was going two days ago, but he was still going to have some fun.

Playing off an erroneous Internet report linking him to Georgia, the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder stepped into the Plant High School auditorium wearing a black shirt and a red sweater vest.

And after a couple of premeditated false alarms, the 19th-ranked prospect in the ESPNU 150 donned the garnet and gold hat of Florida State University and committed to the Seminoles. He chose FSU over Florida and Georgia.

"It was the right choice for me and it was really where I felt like I belonged," Wilder said. "I really love all of the programs that were in my final three but FSU stood out the most."

Wilder's surprise was almost foiled when he learned there were reports talking about his decision, but then he heard that "barring a last-minute change" he was going to commit to Georgia and started making plans.

"When my friends told me about that I just kind of laughed," Wilder said. "And then I put on this red and black and figured I'd have a little fun with it."

He wasn't the only one laughing as coach Jimbo Fisher earned his first major victory two weeks before the Seminoles hit the field.

Wilder becomes the Seminoles' 15th commit and seventh in the ESPNU 150. Wilder's decision could have a ripple effect on the rest of the Seminoles' class as FSU remains among the favorites for top recruits like defensive lineman Ray Drew (Thomasville, Ga./Thomas County Central), linebacker Tony Steward (St. Augustine, Fla./Menendez) and tight end Nick O'Leary (West Palm Beach, Fla./Dwyer).

"The coaching staff is committed to bringing in a class that's as good or better as the one they brought in last year," Wilder said of FSU's sixth-ranked class last year. "I'm just happy to be part of it."

Wilder's decision ends a whirlwind recruiting ride that labeled him initially as a Florida lean and had programs from all over the country recruiting him for his abilities at linebacker as much as, if not more than, for his skills as a running back.

After leading Plant to a state championship as a running back in 2009, Wilder's thoughts on playing defense began to change and for much of the offseason he was leaning toward being a running back in college.

Once he made his intentions public many of the schools among his 40-plus offers began to back off and then he narrowed it down to his final three.

"Coach Fisher and Coach [Eddie] Gran have produced great running backs over the years," Wilder said. "They come from the SEC and they love to have that power running game."

The excitement of landing a player like Wilder left the coaches at a loss for words.

"A couple days ago Coach Fisher told me he was going to sleep well with FSU being in my top three but he'd sleep great if I chose the Seminoles," Wilder said. "Well I told him he could sleep great tonight and he started screaming and then the other coaches were screaming.

"So I had to hang up the phone because they were all screaming in my ear."

Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at coreyespn@gmail.com.