Who Else Was Interested
Wildeman was a relatively under the radar prospect entering February, but his recruitment steadily gained steam until he was one of the fastest rising prospects in the Midwest. Wildeman finished his recruitment with nine FBS offers, including tenders from Iowa, Arizona State and Washington State. Iowa was believed to be the school with the inside track for Wildeman since his father Parker was a standout defensive linemen for Iowa in the early 90s. Luckily for Nebraska, the Huskers had the Bob Diaco connection working in their favor; Diaco played with Wildeman’s father at Iowa and coached with him at Western Illinois. That connection, combined with a tremendous spring game visit, was enough for the Huskers to land Wildeman on Easter Sunday.
Wildeman measures in at 6-6 and 245 pounds. He is definitely a guy you want coming off the bus first, as he has the tall and powerful frame that defensive line coaches dream about. Wildeman has a well-built lower body that still has some room to fill out as he matures, while also possessing a barrel-chested upper body and extremely long arms. Wildeman still has plenty of room to grow despite already measuring in at 245 pounds. When he is finished filling out I would expect him to measure in at 6-6 and in the low 260-pound range.
1. His first step. One of the most important tools in a defensive end’s arsenal is their first step and Wildeman has a good one. Wildeman is explosive off the snap and does a tremendous job of getting up field with his long stride, allowing him to get inside of the offensive lineman’s reach and control the first strike. This allows Wildeman to dictate where he is going instead of having to react against the offensive lineman. Wildeman also does a great job of remaining low throughout his first step and bending the edge, which also allows him to consistently press the advantage he gains from his first step and take the most efficient path to the quarterback.
2. His pass rush technique. Most defensive ends are one trick ponies when they are coming out of high school. They either rely completely on their bull rush or they rely completely on their speed. Luckily for Nebraska, Wildeman shows a bit more polish at this point in his development, as he is very effective at working different angles to get to the quarterback and not relying on just one move. This can likely be attributed to Wildeman getting consistent coaching from his father, a former Big Ten defensive end. Wildeman is also effective at using his hands as a pass rusher and he does a solid job of getting his arms extended and keeping offensive linemen out of his chest.
3. His motor. There are some guys whose effort just jumps off the film and Wildeman is one of those guys. Wildeman goes 100 miles per hour from the snap through the echo of the whistle, allowing him to make several impressive plays running down ball carriers from the backside. John Parrella loves defensive linemen with high motors and Wildeman is a kid that fits right into what Parrella is looking for.
4. His potential. Wildeman is just scratching the surface, as he has a rare combination of size and speed that Nebraska hasn’t had at defensive end in a while. Wildeman has some rough spots in his game that he will need to work on but he has tantalizing potential that was simply too much for the Huskers to pass on.
1. His pad level. Wildeman does a great job of firing out low at the snap. However, he has a tendency to raise his pad level as the play progresses, especially if his initial move doesn’t get him past the opposing lineman. Raising his pad level forces Wildeman to play from a less athletic and powerful position, limiting his effectiveness as a pass rusher. This is a fairly common flaw seen in young defensive ends so it isn’t a huge concern and Wildeman will likely improve in this area after a few months of collegiate practice.
2. His play against the run. Wildeman is already a fantastic pass rusher but his play against the run could still use some work. Right now Wildeman focuses on shooting through gaps and attempting to make splash plays in the backfield. While this strategy has worked for him at the high school level, it won’t be as effective against collegiate offenses and will jeopardize the rest of the Nebraska defense if he continues to look to shoot gaps. Wildeman needs to work on anchoring down and holding his position at the line of scrimmage to force ball carriers to break wide, allowing his teammates to pursue the football. This is another area that will be relatively simple to fix once Wildeman gets on campus and finds out what he can and can’t do against collegiate offensive linemen.
3. Adjusting to a new scheme and new responsibilities. At Legacy, Wildeman is a 4-3 defensive end that is told to get after the quarterback from the outside. At Nebraska, Wildeman will be occupying a much different role, as he is the first defensive end Nebraska has landed since Bob Diaco’s 3-4 scheme came into place. Wildeman will need to work on being able to anchor down and take on double teams in Nebraska’s new defense, a scheme that asks defensive linemen to do the dirty work and take up gaps in order for the linebackers to run and make plays.
Really impressive recruiting victory for Parrella and Bob Diaco. They knocked it out of the park with Wildeman over the spring game and were rewarded with a commitment for one of the more intriguing defensive end prospects in the country. Wildeman wasn’t a huge name entering this spring but his frame and impressive athleticism have led to him becoming arguably the top prospect in the state of Colorado. Wildeman has the size and speed to play early if needed, but I’m guessing the Husker coaches will look to redshirt him if possible to allow him to hit the weights and adjust to the 3-4 scheme.
Wildeman may need a year or two of seasoning, but once it clicks he has the potential to become a true anchor for Nebraska’s 3-4 in the future. Also, by landing Wildeman, the Huskers eliminated the prospect of having to face him for four years, as Iowa was working hard to bring the legacy recruit back to Iowa.
Solid job by Parrella, who now has two high-ceiling prospects that are perfect fits for the 3-4 in his 2018 recruiting haul.
College Comparison: Taller version of Wake Forest defensive end Duke Ejiofer
Pro Comparison: Former Washington Redskins defensive end Jason Hatcher