Father’s Day: 2014 NFL Draft Prospects Following in Footsteps of NFL Dads

Like his father, James Wilder Jr. is trying to pave his way to the NFL as a bruising power back. (Photo: USA Today Sports Images)

James Wilder, Sr. and James Wilder, Jr.

James Wilder, Sr. was known for his tough running style and being one of the most difficult players to tackle during his 10-year career.

His son, James Jr., runs with the same ferocity. James Jr.’s high school coach, Robert Weiner, believes the younger Wilder’s effort and competitiveness come from his father.

“He goes after it hard in practice and he’s extremely competitive,” Weiner told ESPN in 2009, “but the minute practice is over he’s walking arm in arm with his teammates. He has been around football all his life and he knows what it takes to be member of the team and a leader on the team.”

James Jr. learned and modeled himself after his father.

“Oh shoot, my dad has helped me a lot,” Wilder, Jr. told ESPN in 2009. “Since I was a baby I’ve looked up to my dad. I’ve always watched his films but he doesn’t just care about football, he wants me to get my academics done first.”

James Jr. runs hard and is tough to bring down like his father. He’s the definition of a power back and is a great asset in short yardage situations.

Entering his junior season at Florida State, he is arguably one of the most talented running backs in the country. However, his off-field issues will likely hurt his stock. He was arrested three times in a 11-month span from February 2012 to January.

At this point, James Jr. is a mid-round pick. If he can stay out of trouble and have a good junior campaign, he could be a second-day pick should he declare for the 2014 NFL Draft.

Tim and Tevin McDonald

Tim McDonald made six Pro Bowls and won Super Bowl XXIX as a member of the San Francisco 49ers during his 13-year playing career.

Despite his success as a top safety, McDonald didn’t want his sons, T.J. and Tevin, to play football.

“When I retired from football in 2000, I had 13 surgeries,” Tim McDonald told ESPNLA in 2010. “As a father, knowing how I was feeling at the time, I really didn’t want to introduce them to football.”

He knew he couldn’t hide the game from his sons, so once they became interested, Tim taught them how to tackle properly and play the safety position. He continued to teach them as they grew including being their high school coach.

T.J. followed in his father’s footsteps by excelling at the University of Southern California, and was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the third round of the 2013 draft. Tim was also drafted in 1987 by the NFL’s St. Louis team, which became the Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals in 1988.

Tevin, on the other hand, chose to commit to crosstown rival UCLA and separate himself from his father and brother.

“I didn’t want to go to USC and be T.J.’s little brother,” Tevin McDonald told ESPNLA in 2010. “Now I’m at UCLA and I’m Tevin McDonald. I’m not Tim’s son or T.J.’s little brother, and I know that would have been the story if I went to USC.”

Through two seasons at UCLA, Tevin showcased strong instincts and an athletic, physical prowess that runs in the family.

“It’s not as much as me doing it because that’s how my dad played, but being physical is a huge part of the game as a safety,” Tevin told Fox Sports West in 2011. “It just so happens that two really big role models of how to play physical are my dad and my brother.”

UCLA dismissed Tevin due to a violation of team rules in March. He was also suspended for the 2012 Holiday Bowl after he failed his third drug test, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Tevin transferred to Eastern Washington University where he’ll compete for a starting safety spot.

With a solid junior season at EWU, McDonald could rehabilitate his draft stock, and could be a mid-round pick should he declare for the 2014 NFL Draft. However, he is more likely to be a late-round pick or priority free agent after his dismissal and reported failed drug test.

Other notable father-son duos of the 2014 NFL draft: George Atkinson Jr. (1968-1979) & son, George III (junior at Notre Dame); Tony Brooks (1992-1993) & son, Anthony Barr (senior at UCLA); Willie Jones (1979-1981) & son, Christian (senior at Florida State); Derek Kennard (1986-1996) & son, Devon (senior at USC); Bill Renner (1986-1987) & son, Bryn (senior at North Carolina); Ed Reynolds Sr. (1983-1992) & son, Ed Jr. (senior at Stanford); Mickey Sutton (1986-1990) & son, Will (senior at Arizona State)

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, Anthony Barr, Bryn Renner, Chrisitan Jones, Devon Kennard, Ed Reynolds, Father's Day, George Atkinson III, Jackson Jeffcoat, Jake Matthews, James Wilder, Tevin McDonald, Will Sutton

One Response to “Father’s Day: 2014 NFL Draft Prospects Following in Footsteps of NFL Dads”

  1. Ryan Talbot says:

    Wish Buffalo had Jim Jeffcoat when he was in his prime. He was still a contributor in his time with the Bills, but he had quite the career in Dallas.

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