|Tech Senior fullback Ed Wilder is one of the best blockers on the team and a true leader.|
ATLANTA (July 31) — For the last three years, Ed Wilder’s family has helped elevate the level of the Georgia Tech fullback’s game, and while helping him soar on the football field, they have also made sure his head does not get stuck in the clouds.
“Just to look up and see my parents sitting there, I think it elevates my game and my expectations to a whole other level,” Wilder said. “When everybody else is saying, ‘You looked so great, you did so well,’ my mom says, ‘Well you missed that block right there.’ She watches. She knows every block I miss. She says, ‘Baby, you didn’t do so good on that play.’ It’s good to be grounded like that.”
While his family helps keep Wilder at the top of his game mentally, Wilder will be counted on to fill a “big brother” role on a young Yellow Jacket squad in 2000.
“Going into my senior year I expect the team to be a lot more family-oriented,” Wilder said, “more of a brotherhood. We’re young and I think we worked together quite a bit this summer. It’s good to see a lot of the freshmen come in early. I think it’s going to be good for us – good cohesiveness. I look forward to being tighter, and I think whether we win or lose, as a whole we’re going to be more together as a team.”
Family is a theme that is very close to the heart of Wilder, an unsung hero for the Georgia Tech football team. The 6-2, 255-pound fullback has overcome injuries to provide leadership on and off the field. A versatile player with excellent speed and athletic ability, Wilder received the Tech Way Award for his dedication and determination last season. His career totals of 236 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 50 carries, along with 28 receptions for 315 yards and five more touchdowns, are only partial indicators of his contributions to the team. Despite battling a chronic knee injury, Wilder is recognized as one of the best blockers on the team and a true leader.
“I think my role is not to be so much of a vocal leader,” Wilder said, “but to be an action leader, to do my job and let everyone see me doing my job. I think it’s easier for people to follow other people when they’re actually doing the work than when they are talking about it. I’m not one who talks a lot, who likes to talk a lot, but I do want to do my role – go out and work hard in the weight room, work hard in the class room, work hard on the field – just to show those guys, ‘Look, this is what it’s all about. This is what it’s going to take to win.'”
Wilder’s leadership skills have been honed though his injuries, family and a reliance on God.
“Going through the injuries helped me mature in a couple of ways,” Wilder said. “First, it helped me mature in my spirituality and leaning more on God. And the second thing, it helped me to realize that I am human because most of us get the impression that we are invincible and we can’t be hurt. And I think I had that for a little while. The injuries helped ground me, helped me lean more into being realistic about this football thing, that it probably won’t last forever.”
|“I think this is one of the most talented teams we’ve had since I’ve been here as far as speed, size and quickness.”|
For as long as it lasts, Wilder hopes that playing as family will enable the team to reach new levels of success.
“I just want us to come out and play together,” Wilder said. “If we come out and play together, our goals are unlimited. I think this is one of the most talented teams we’ve had since I’ve been here as far as speed, size and quickness. If we come out and play together – play as one – then it’s unlimited what we can do. I won’t even set any limitations on the team like that.”
As Wilder prepares for his senior season, he keeps his options open for life after graduation. The Washington, Ga., native is on pace to graduate with a degree in management next spring.
“First of all, I want to graduate, and then I don’t know,” he said. “If the NFL comes up, then I’ll take a peek at it, and if that’s not what’s in store for me, I’m totally comfortable with it. Just go into corporate America and get a job, maybe even go to grad school. With me being on pace to graduate, my options are wide. I can pretty much do whatever I choose and still not be the wrong choice.”
For now, Wilder eagerly anticipates his final year as a Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket football player.
“I’m definitely looking forward to my senior season,” Wilder said. “My mom is overly excited because I didn’t get the senior year of my high school (due to an injury). She wanted me to be healthy and she’s been praying for me. This year I just want to go out and not only play for God and myself, but play for my mom. I think she deserves this and my family deserves this – the people who have been there throughout the injuries, throughout the long nights, the surgeries. I just want to dedicate it to them, because without them, there is no me, and without my teammates, there is no me.”
With his parents cheering him on, Wilder hopes he and his teammates will play like family. And he envisions an exciting year of Rambling Wreck football.
“I think that people think without Joe (Hamilton) that we probably will collapse as a team, and playing without Joe, we do lose an important part of our offense from last year,” Wilder said. “But I think we have a group of dedicated, determined young men who are going to come out and put on a show and just try to put out the best productivity we can every week. I still think we’re going to come out and provide that entertainment that we always have the last three years with Joe. I just want people to know that without him, we’re still going to have that edge, we’re still going to have that flexibility in our offense. We’re still going to be an exciting team to watch. We’re a family.”