Wilder said is excited about being able to play after missing last season and he wants to do whatever he can to help the team.

"I just want to contribute /" he said. "Hopefully / me getting the deep ball can open up the running game and some of the shallow routes. I just want to do my part / that's all I can say."

However / Wilder said he does not want anyone to think he is simply a two-sport standout.

"I played basketball in high school. I was top 12 in Mississippi and played in the North-South all-star game. I was a basketball player at first. God's blessed me with a lot."

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

    O’Neal runs wild for both track, football

    For those who have wondered what it would be like if a world-class sprinter were to try his hand at football, O’Neal Wilder will be exhibit A on Saturday. Wilder was unable to play football during his freshman year due to injuries, but after major knee surgery the 6’5″ sprinter showed the Bulldog faithful what he is capable of in the when he hauled in 4 catches for 122 yards in the 2009 spring game, including a 63-yard bomb from Chris Relf.
    Most fans are unaware of Wilder’s accomplishments on the track. This All-SEC sprinter was on the gold medal 4×400 relay team at the IAAF World Junior National Championship where he also won the bronze medal in the 400-meter dash. He is the USA Junior National Champion in the 400 meter and holds the MSU freshman record in the same event. At Carthage High School, Wilder was the state champion in the 400-meter dash both his junior and senior years and was also the state champion in the 200-meter dash his senior year.
    So, how did Wilder end up in football?
    “Well, the football coach was the bus driver for the track team,” Wilder said. “He saw me running one day and was like, ‘I like your stride, just come out and try to play football.’ And then I came out my junior year and tried to get adjusted. Before my senior year I went to some camps and learned a lot of things. It wasn’t horrible.”
    No, it was not horrible. The speedster averaged 23.8 yards per catch his junior season at Carthage. In his senior year, Wilder was named first team all-state in class 3-A by the Mississippi Association of Coaches after a 13-touchdown campaign that included an appearance in the second round of the playoffs.
    Of course, MSU was not the only school recruiting Wilder. He said Hawaii and Miami both were after him, but in the end he wanted to stay close to home.
    “You know, I’m a small town country boy. My visit in Miami was Super Bowl weekend the year they played it down there,” he said. “It was just too much for me. Also, it’s the SEC. You can’t ask for anything better than the SEC.”
    Wilder said he plans to continue both football and track and field this year assuming his knee remains healthy.
    Assistant track and field coach Houston Franks said the team is excited to have him in the mix.
    “My understanding is that he will do both. He’s a heck of a runner. I know football is excited about him and we certainly hope to have him in the spring,” Franks said. “It’s hard work, but it can be done.” Wilder’s hopes for this year may rest on the answer to the question many people are asking. After major knee surgery, is he still fast?
    “Yeah I think so,” Wilder said. “I’ve had a couple deep balls in practice, and it’s actually going a lot better. My knee is getting a lot stronger so I’m getting back into my normal stride.”
    Wide receivers coach Mark Hudspeth told bulldawgjunction.com he believes Wilder is in great health and will be ready to go for Jackson State.
    “O’Neal is basically 100 percent. He still has some swelling on his knee from time to time , but he will be ready to go.”
    Hudspeth said a now fully healthy Wilder now has to fine-tune his game.
    “He has put on a little more weight, but he is learning the position still,” he said. “He has unbelievable size and top-end speed, but we’ve got to get the wheels turning in the first 15 yards. It was great to see him make some athletic catches in the spring game, so I think he shows some promise.”
    He is known for speed, but his size could prove to be just as valuable of an asset to the Bulldogs. Wilder will always be a deep-threat, but at 6’5″ and 215-pounds, he is a big target in the red zone for whomever the quarterback may be.
    “DB’s are usually going to be about 5’8” or 5’9

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    The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
    O’Neal runs wild for both track, football