Derek Wilder was born into a football family. He grew up with a football in one hand and a helmet in the other. Football was in his blood.
He is the son of Bobby Wilder, the head coach of the Old Dominion University football team. Now, the upbringing that instilled the love of the game into Derek may be hindering his recruiting process as he looks to begin his senior year at Maury High School in Norfolk, Virginia.
“Some schools are coming in and they think I have already committed to Old Dominion. Some schools ask me if they should even recruit me or am I just going to Old Dominion. It’s just not normal.”
Currently, the linebacker only has two offers, from Old Dominion and Elon University. Since his father is the head coach at ODU, it is making teams either shy away from knocking on Derek’s door, or confusing them once they begin talks.
“Most schools are just like ‘Oh he’s just going to play for his dad.’ They come in and some coaches will say they don’t understand why I wouldn’t play for Old Dominion,” Wilder said in a phone call on Tuesday night.
It is beginning to get under Wilder’s skin.
“I tell them ‘You can’t make that decision for me. I haven’t decided yet.’”
While Derek is grateful for the offers he currently has, he thinks the assumption that he is going to attend Old Dominion is getting old.
“It’s getting to the point now that I’m getting a little concerned that I only have two options,” Wilder said.
However his father may not be the only reason Derek Wilder has not been getting the attention he deserves.
While last football season went well, Wilder believes that if he had improved on his speed, he may be getting more attention.
“If I could run a low 4.7 or a 4.8, if I could run that, then I feel like right now I would have a lot more offers than I do.”
Wilder wants to get faster and work on his strength in the offseason.
While his recruitment has not gone according to plan, Wilder remains hopeful that he will have more than two offers by the time he wants to make his decision at the end of September.
“I am still open to all options. I don’t want schools to feel like if they want to recruit me they shouldn’t,” Wilder said.
One thing that should make him so appealing to teams is his versatility. He plays on both sides of the ball, at tight end and linebacker, but schools have been recruiting him to play on defense.
Derek Wilder is listed at 6-2, 230 pounds. According to his profile on Hudl, he runs a 4.75 second 40 yard dash, can bench press 285 pounds and squat 375 pounds.
While many of these numbers look nice, his real strength comes when he is in the game and making decisions.
“I’m a smart player. I may not be the most athletic player on the field. I definitely try to work hard to get there, but my football smarts help me really compete,” Wilder said.
According to Derek, many people compare him to Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly.
His ability to play on both sides of the ball has also helped him. He says he knows what the other team is going to do because of his knowledge of both offense and defense.
While Wilder is looking forward to his early graduation in December, he still is keeping an eye on the upcoming season.
“I want to improve our record. Every year we have played we have improved our record and I want to continue that,” Wilder said.
As for his goals once he graduates, Wilder says he wants to play at a Division 1A school, win championships, and have a good time.
For now though, Derek Wilder is focusing on his recruitment. His message to schools: no decisions have been made. Come knock on my door.
“I just want to make sure it’s known that I haven’t made a decision and I am still open to all options. I have not committed to Old Dominion.”