MYRTLE BEACH | Brandon Wilds wants to end any speculation here and now:
He is firmly committed to South Carolina. He will not take any other visits. He will enroll at USC in January.
The status of the Blythewood tailback has been in question for months. He committed to the Gamecocks in August, but it was only a few weeks later when interest and an offer ensued from Arkansas. That created plenty of conjecture over his college plans.
It was rumored this week that he had scheduled a visit with the Razorbacks, but he matter-of-factly put all of the speculation to rest following North-South All-Star game practice Tuesday.
“There’s not too much to worry about other schools,” said Wilds, a North all-star. “It’s just South Carolina. I’m ready to go in January.
“No [other] visits. I’ve been hearing that a lot.”
Perhaps the Wilds-to-Arkansas rumors took new life after Razorbacks assistant John L. Smith visited Blythewood last week. Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino likes big, bruising tailbacks – the team’s starter, Knile Davis, stands 6-foot, 220 pounds – so the program’s interest in Wilds, a 6-foot-1, 220-pounder, made perfect sense.
There was likely some reciprocal interest in the beginning as well, but Wilds is excited about the opportunity he has with the Gamecocks.
“I’m very excited,” he said with a smile. “I’ve been to a couple of practices. I’m just ready to get into the system. All my life I’ve been playing with older kids. My freshman year I played with the varsity first-string, so it’s just natural to me [to go compete].”
Wilds said he isn’t bothered by the competition he’ll have a running back. Beyond Marcus Lattimore, who has at least two seasons left with the Gamecocks, USC has commitments from Lake City tailback Shon Carson, a Shrine Bowler, and junior standout Kendric Salley of Williston-Elko.
Wilds had a rough senior season for the Bengals. After rushing for 1,490 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2009, averaging 6.4 yards per carry, he struggled to find running room behind a young, inexperienced offensive line this season.
He carried 175 times for 818 yards (4.7 per carry) and eight touchdowns, averaging 74.4 yards per game this season. He also caught 20 passes (second on the team) for 127 yards and returned six kickoffs for 234 yards and one touchdown.
It looks as if Wilds will see action in a number of different roles in Saturday’s all-star game. He practiced Tuesday as a single back and an I-back, running between the tackles and also outside of them. He caught several passes out of the backfield.
“He’s that rare back that can give you power and speed,” said North coach Bennie McMurray of Lancaster, who plans to give Wilds plenty of carries on Saturday. “He’s got great hands. I’ve seen him for the last three years because we’ve played Blythewood. I know what he can do. Super kid. Super attitude. He’s just a pretty darn good football player. Even South Carolina realized that because they’ve offered him a scholarship. Icing on the cake for us.
“He and [Lattimore] they’ve got some one-two-three punches with great backs. It’s going to be interesting to see. It’s going to be good competition.”