August 21, 2010

Wilds Begins Senior Season

FRIDAY NIGHT VIDEO: Brandon Wilds
FRIDAY NIGHT GALLERY: Brandon Wilds

It was an extremely rough night. Yet Brandon Wilds could handle it.

The win made it a perfect week, even if his first-game totals weren't great.

"We've just got to work on our offense and get better," the Blythewood High School senior said on Friday. "But we did get a W. One-and-oh."

Wilds, the Bengals' tailback, committed to South Carolina on Thursday and began his senior season on Friday. Blythewood beat South Florence 14-7, the game-winning touchdown a result of falling on a bad-snapped punt in the end zone, but it was a win.

Each team was victim of several sloppy plays, and no offensive player could get a break. The Bruins, knowing of Wilds' exploits last year, stacked themselves in the box and overwhelmed Blythewood's offensive line, often getting a hand on Wilds before he took his third step from the backfield.

Wilds took two shovel passes and turned them into a combined 41 yards, including his longest gain of the night, a 32-yard gallop where he hit the middle and ran over a linebacker before cutting to the outside. It helped soothe the sting of a hard night rushing the ball -- Wilds finished with 18 carries for 44 yards, although he had gains of 14 and 7 yards in the fourth quarter, keyed by him bowling over defenders.

"I'm pretty sure they was going to come in the box, do a lot of blitzes for me," Wilds said. "Thought we was going to come out with some passes."

Ehhh -- he'll get 'em next week.

Wilds became the first and perhaps only running-back commitment for the Gamecocks' next recruiting class, a 6-foot-1, 220-pound bruiser in the mold of Brian Maddox. Wilds already said the USC coaches have talked to him about playing a Maddox-like role -- i.e., using his upper body strength to pound opponents up top and then powering his legs to shove past them -- which is good, considering Maddox is about to play his senior year.

He had the numbers last year, rushing for 1,551 yards in 12 games and scoring 20 touchdowns, 17 on the ground. Wilds is the only 1,000-yard rusher Blythewood has ever had and got there with eight career games of at least 100 yards, including a 221-yard performance last year.

Wilds said he wants to up those totals this year, aiming for 2,000 yards and 30 TDs. He didn't score on Friday but it's only six days until his next chance.

In the meantime, he'll try to check out the Gamecocks' scrimmage this morning since he didn't get to watch one on Wednesday, due to rain. It didn't change his opinion, though -- he called and committed the next day.

"I'm from Columbia, I lived in Columbia all my life," said Wilds, who plans to graduate in December so he can enroll at USC in January. "Just a great place to go."


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