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2014 Bearcat Season Countdown: #23 – Howard Wilder

The Bearcats top corner back this year in terms of playing time in 2013, in terms of actual corner experience and in terms of he’s listed as the starter is Howard Wilder. Wilder was a junior college transfer in 2013. He played in all 13 games, starting 10. Once Trenior Orr went down, Wilder was the primary starter. Although he didn’t start the USF game. Wilder had a pair of interceptions a year ago, against UConn and Louisville. He had a pair of 5 tackle games. Wilder ended up putting together a fine statistical season, despite his playing time being limited at the outset.

Howard Wilder is in for a bit of a role change this year. He’s not just the top corner, he’s really the only returning corner, Trenior Orr is gone and Deven Drane graduated. Grant Coleman is listed as his backup. Coleman had very minimal playing time in 2013. The man who backed up Wilder late last year was Rod Moore. Rod Moore is a running back this season. The pressure on Wilder to be the man at corner is huge. With Adrian Witty on the other side, one would expect him to get tested early and often. It’s up to Wilder to hold down the other side of the field. With his backup an unknown to those of us who aren’t on the practice field every day, staying healthy is doubly important.

Wilder is a big piece of the changing Cincinnati secondary. The back end are full of young players in their second seasons. Both of the starting corners are seniors. The nickle back is a junior. Those are the only players that saw expansive time in 2013. Roles have changed, leadership roles have changed. Wilder and Witty are the leaders of the secondary. When you think about it, Wilder has the most pressure on him. Zach Edwards and Mike Tyson can get the excuse that they are young guys and young guys make mistakes. Witty has moved to corner. Payne hasn’t played a ton. Wilder was a starter. He played well. The expectations on him will be higher.

The biggest battle Howard Wilder could fight this season might be with those expectations. Two new starters in the secondary need an anchor. If Wilder can not be that anchor, trouble would seem to be brewing. Based off his 2013 season, I believe that Howard Wilder can be that anchor. He played across from Deven Drane last year and held his own. Wilder made some plays. I don’t recall him getting beat often. With more consistent time on the field, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he picked up a couple more INTs, lead the team in passes broken up and was in the top 4 or 5 in tackles. His talent level seems to be that high. Which is good, because you would think Tommy Tuberville wouldn’t change Witty’s position if the other corner spot wasn’t completely solid.

Howard Wilder was a bright spot when injuries hit the corners in 2013. With more shine as a full time starter from the word go, I’m expecting a big season from number 3. Prediction, he will have 3 INTs. That wasn’t the coolest prediction ever.

Wilder photo via USA Today