USC Recruiting

August 18, 2014

Healthy habits keep future Gamecock Antoine Wilder on top of his game

South Carolina recruited safety Antoine Wilder for his appetite to play defense. It's his habits off the field, and at the dinner table, that impress one of his high school coaches the most.

South Carolina recruited safety Antoine Wilder for his appetite to play defense.

It's his habits off the field, and at the dinner table, that impress one of his high school coaches the most.

"He doesn't eat fried foods. He doesn't drink sodas. He's just a real disciplined kid," said Kevin Pope, defensive coordinator at Hapeville Charter in Atlanta. "I've never seen a kid at the age of 17 have such discipline with how he approaches the game with his nutrition as well as studying and working out."

The 5-foot-11, 183-pound Wilder committed to secondary coach Grady Brown and the Gamecocks in June. He's been committed to a structured eating routine since summer of 2013.

Inspired by NFL great Ray Lewis' dedication to conditioning and a strict diet, Wilder consumes a lot of pasta and fish - baked fish, of course.

"If you want to be the best, you've got to know what to eat and what not to eat," Wilder said. "Your body is your temple. The way you treat your body is the way you're going to play on the field."

Breakfast every morning includes eggs. If it's time for takeout, he'll likely head to Atlanta's Mr. Everything Cafe for yellow rice with shrimp and grilled chicken, broccoli and cheese.

Wilder hasn't had fried food at all this year. Baked fish. Baked chicken. If it's baked, he'll eat it.

"I make it myself," he said. "My mom eats a lot of fried food. She's not worried about playing football. She'll help me out. If I try to cheat, she'll say, 'Put that down.' "

Wilder is constantly working out, good at watching film, asks a lot of questions and studies his playbook a lot, Pope said.

On the field, Pope called his safety one of the smartest and most physical players he's ever coached.

"He leads the defense for us," Pope said. "He has great range. He can play both sides of the field. He's a guy that understands his position and understands everybody's position in front of him. He understands formations. When we have to check into different calls, he's the guy I can rely on to do the check calls."

Hitting is a favorite part of the game, said Wilder, who considers himself a "headhunter."

A three-star prospect, he is a teammate of USC defensive end commitment Arden Key. Wilder picked South Carolina over Mississippi State and Kentucky. He continues to hear from Georgia and Kentucky. In fact, he almost committed to the Wildcats before giving his pledge to the Gamecocks.

"Coach Brown likes the way I carry myself," Wilder said. "I don't do social media. I don't party. I try to work out every day all day. I want to be the best. Until I am the best, I'm going to keep doing that."

Wilder and Pope believe his good habits can pave the way to a successful college career and beyond.

"In my mind, he's already developing as a college player just understanding what it takes to be the best," Pope said. "He's constantly doing something toward the goal. He wants to be an NFL player. I think he has an awesome chance because of the way he carries himself and prepares himself. I wish I had that maturity when I was 17."

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