James Wilder Jr.’s voice gave out Friday long before his energy and passion.
The former Florida State running back, who helped lead the Seminoles to the 2013 national championship before spending several years in the NFL and CFL, not only gave a motivational speech to the youths at Florida State’s free football clinic in Tampa, but he even helped out with some of the drills.
Wilder got so involved in the coaching that he didn’t have enough voice left to say everything he wanted when he spoke to the entire group.
“I had to make a lot of noise for them,” Wilder said with a laugh. “I had to get Wilder. I had to bring that energy.”
After spending parts of his first three years post-Florida State with the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills, Wilder has gone on to star in the Canadian Football League. He signed a new contract with the CFL’s Edmonton Football Team earlier this year.
But once he saw that FSU and head coach Mike Norvell were bringing a free youth clinic to his hometown of Tampa, Wilder said he couldn’t wait to attend.
“This was something that I couldn’t miss,” he said.
Wilder, who was a five-star prospect coming out of high school and averaged 7.0 yards per carry for the Seminoles in 2013, said Norvell actually reached out earlier this year and said he wanted Wilder and other former players to feel more comfortable coming back and spending time with the program.
That invitation apparently was well-received.
“I’m gonna be around as much as possible now,” Wilder said, adding that he was going to help out at FSU’s youth clinic in Lakeland today and plans to come to the one in Tallahassee in June.
He added that his former FSU teammates have expressed similar excitement about the direction of the Seminoles’ program under Norvell.
“There’s something big that’s brewing here,” Wilder said, “and we just want to be a part. And to help push them toward that goal.”
While Wilder had spoken with Norvell previously, Friday was his first chance to see all of the Seminoles’ coaches in action. And he came away impressed.
“The coaches are doing great things,” Wilder said. “Awesome staff.”