Energetic, dedicated, strong-willed and energetic are four to describe words Vernon Wilder, a junior and defensive linebacker for the FAMU Rattlers used to describe himself.
To excel on the field, Wilder believes you need more than just skill on the field.
Principle five of coach Rubin Carter’s Mission Statement for the FAMU Rattlers Football Team is “Commitment to excellence while striving to develop leaders based on honesty, integrity and strength of character.”
Vernon Wilder tries his best to live up to this principle. Wilder said he commits to the team no matter what the task, regardless of whether he is on the field or pumping iron before and after practice. Wilder commits to football in the off-season by practicing individually to constantly strengthen his skills on the field.
Wilder is no stranger to athletic activity having been active in basketball, soccer and baseball since he was in elementary school.
Football was not on the list until high school. He did not play in his first organized football game until he was a freshman at Carol City High School in Miami. Since then he has played as a defensive linebacker.
Teammate Anthony Collins is a red shirt freshman also from Miami he said Wilder is motivation.
“Wilder is a defensive leader,” Collins said. “Therefore his energy helps us win games.”
Collins said Wilder “brings great sportsmanship, energy and team morale.”
Wilder is not only a dominant force on the field but he also places a high emphasis on education, maintaining a 3.0 GPA in physical education. He said if his heart were not in football he would be a physical education teacher.
Coach Rubin Carter notices Wilder’s love for football in each game.
“Vernon made many key tackles in the game against Winston-Salem,” Carter said. “We will always need his aggressive defense on the field.”
As for now Wilder dedicates most, if not all, of his time to the field. During the summer his workout consisted of the 50-yard dash, which he repeats 34 times, and then he sprints up to 10 yards, this he repeats 16 times.
After practice Wilder hits the weight room. Because of his workout plan he never gets tired and is prepared to take any hit necessary.
“Vernon is focus and he doesn’t really smile so you can tell he is serious,” Collins said inside the game. But contrary to his attitude on the field, off the field he is laid back and really just likes to rest.
“I manage my time the best way I can,” Wilder said. “When I’m not in practice or at a game I like to play Madden and go out to eat; and of course sleep.”
Wilder said although the Rattlers record is not flawless, they are trying hard.
“Even though we are 2-3 [in the MEAC] we work very hard,” Wilder said. “We will get FAMU back on the map – we still have a chance to make it to the MEAC Championship Game. No one should count us out yet.”
With five games left, the Rattlers still have time to prove themselves to their fans.