I'm working on a story about MSU's track and field team, which is currently ranked 11th in the country. More specifically, I'm writing about the male sprinters, the strength of this squad. One of the Bulldogs' best is O'Neal Wilder, who until February was also a part of MSU's football team as a wide receiver.
Wilder, who stands 6-foot-5, was emerging as a legitimate deep threat for State. He was third on the team with 236 receiving yards in 2009. But he decided a couple of months ago to drop football and focus only on track. He's already seen dividends, having dropped 16 pounds and experienced a lot less soreness in his knee, which he injured in football.
"I had to have a real talk with myself, and I realized that if I want to progress in the future and I want to get better -- and I also looked at, I want to be able to play with my kids when I get older, too," Wilder said. "The day after football practice, I could barely walk. Ever since I’ve been out here I’ve had no trouble with my knee."
Wilder said football coach Dan Mullen wasn't too thrilled with the decision, especially given how thin the Bulldogs are at receiver. But Wilder couldn't give Mullen what he wanted.
"If you asked me if I liked football more than I liked track, I’d have to say, no," Wilder said. "And he’s looking for athletes that love the game and that’s going to put his whole heart in it. I just wasn’t at that point. It’s like you’re serving two masters at one point."
I'll have more on Wllder's decision in the coming days. Tomorrow's story will focus more on the sprinters as a whole, including super freshman Tavaris Tate of Starkville.