Brandon Wilds called up by Jaguars

Brandon Wilds (22) showing a glimpse of what made him a star at Blythewood and the University of South Carolina.

JACKSONVILLE, FL – Leonard Fournette was a stellar collegiate football talent at LSU and was the fourth overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2017 draft. However, Fournette went down with a strained hamstring in the opening week of the 2018 season, and this opened the door for Blythewood native Brandon Wilds to be activated from the Jaguars’ practice squad.

Wilds, a former PrepStar All-American and North-South All-star, was a running back for the Bengals from 2007 until he graduated in 2011, and he had superb career at Blythewood. As a junior, he became the first player in school history to accumulate 1,000 rushing yards in a single season. He finished his junior year with 1,551 yards and 20 touchdowns.

He followed his stellar junior season with another strong season the following year. Wilds tallied 881 yards and eight touchdowns in his senior year. After his Blythewood career was said and done, he had racked up 500 carries for 2,700 yards and 29 touchdowns.

He was ranked a three-star prospect and the 29th best player in the state by Rivals.com coming out of high school. Scout.com slated Wilds as the 115th running back in the country and also named him as a three-star prospect.

East Carolina, Illinois, Arkansas and Maryland were among the major universities that showed interest in recruiting the tough running back. Eventually, Wilds elected to take his talents to the University of South Carolina and play for Steve Spurrier.

Wilds was listed as the fifth running back on the Gamecocks’ roster heading into his freshman season in 2011, but team injuries allowed him to make an immediate impact. He started five games as a true-freshman and ran for over 147 yards against the University of Tennessee, 120 against Florida and hung 109 on the Citadel. His 486 rushing yards in his freshman season were good enough for the third highest total on the team.

A high-ankle sprain led to Wilds being red-shirted in 2012. He kicked off the 2013 season by earning the Joe Morrison Offensive Player of the Spring at the Garnet and Black game. Despite the positive spring performance in sophomore year, he had to fight through injuries most of the 2013 season and only started two games.

Wilds had a much better season in 2014, finishing second on the team in total rushing with 570 yards on 106 carries with four starts in 12 appearances. He had a 24-yard, game-winning touchdown that season to knock off the number-six ranked Georgia Bulldogs, and, in a game against Auburn, he became the 42nd Gamecock to ever amass 1,000 total rushing. His 143-yard performance against Tennessee that year turned out to be a career-high, and he also had a career-long 70-yard touchdown in the same game.

The 2015 season was a big one for Wilds. He led the team in rushing in his senior year with 567 yards in nine starts and was invited to play in the National Football League’s Player’s Association Collegiate Bowl. He finished his Gamecock career as the 20th leading rusher in school history with 1,844 yards and piled up seven 100-yard rushing games.

Wilds was not selected in the 2016 NFL Draft, but quickly signed a free agent deal with the Atlanta Falcons. He had 26 yards on 10 carries and one touchdown in his NFL preseason debut against the Washington Redskins. The following week against the Cleveland Browns, he had 49 yards on eight carries and a 32-yard touchdown. Shortly after the Browns game, Wilds was waived by the Falcons.

After his release from the Falcons, he signed to the New York Jets practice squad and got his first shot of regular season action in late 2016. His first regular season game was against the San Francisco 49ers in December, and he had four yards on two carries. He played again a couple of weeks later in a loss to the New England Patriots, but was waived the following offseason.

Wilds had a short stint with the Cleveland Browns after his Jets’ tenure, but injuries prevented him from seeing any playing time. He signed to Jaguars practice squad on Oct. 9, 2017. He will wear no. 34 for Jacksonville.

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