NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY)- Old Dominion signed its newest football player last week and he has a familiar name. Yes Derek Wilder, who thanks to his famous head coach father Bobby now officially is a member of the team. “I wanted to play at the highest level I could and find the best fit and best school for me and ODU happened to be that place,” said Derek Wilder.
At 6’2, 230 pounds, Derek will play linebacker for the Monarchs. Father Bobby and son Derek wanted the recruiting process to be like everyone elses and in the end, father and coach got a great surprise from his son. “I didn’t know where he was going to go, he popped into my office the week before the Hampton game and he said dad I’ve made my decision. I didn’t know what his decision was at that point and I was wondering as coach and dad are we the one’s? That was a very special moment as dad and head coach,” said Bobby Wilder.
The NCAA has very strict rules on how college coaches can recruit players so the Wilder’s had to be very careful to know the difference between coach and player, father and son. “‘The process was already confusing enough as it is but take into consideration that the biggest school recruiting me was where my dad was the head coach. So there were a lot of times where I was asking myself if I’m talking to dad or am I talking to coach. It was hard to decipher the difference between the two,” said Derek.
While Bobby was going about his work leading the Monarchs, Derek’s mom Pam took the lead on the recruiting process. “He really did it right. He and his mom had a good idea of what he needed to look for in terms of how I’m going to grow as a person, student and football player and I told him to evaluate me the same way he evaluated every other head coach,” said Bobby Wilder.
Due to the demands of college football, Bobby has missed many of Derek’s games and this year alone he will miss half of Derek’s senior season. But that will change next year. “This will be the first time he will get to see all of my games. In my whole life he has not been able to see all of my games. It’s been hard, but you have to get used to it and move on,” said Derek. Bobby added, “This is gonna make up for a lot of lost time. And that’s what I am so happy about selfishly as a dad that I will be there for him when he has success or failure and he needs his head coach to be there and his dad and now I get to be a part of that.”