Wilson a hidden gem in Harlan County
That might not be the case any longer, however, for at least one HC standout.
Cole Wilson, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound athlete, has been causing a stir on the early summer combine circuit with a pair of nice showings in Cincinnati and Charlotte. At the latter event, he ran an electronically-timed 4.6 forty and left scouts and media alike scrambling to find out who the impressive mystery prospect was.
"He really hasn't had much publicity like a lot of these other guys who have the star rankings and all that," said the player's guardian, James Earl Hensley. "But by the end of the VTO in Charlotte, everyone there was asking about him. They said all the coaches were running up to the guys running the combine wanting to know who No. 120 was."
If Wilson develops into a major prospect, it will also raise a number of eyebrows in his own state.
"He's not even mentioned among the state's best players when you see various lists that come out," Hensley said, "but I've been around the game my whole life, and I can tell you he's got to be one of the top 10 prospects in Kentucky.
"He's got so much potential, and he's just beginning to realize it. I think once he got around to a couple of these events and saw that he could hang with kids being recruited by Ohio State and other big programs, the light bulb kind of went off for him. He knows he's got an opportunity to earn a scholarship somewhere."
Wilson helped lead the Black Bears to an 11-3 record as a junior. Playing an outside linebacker/defensive end position in Harlan County's scheme, he racked up 104 tackles. He was also the team's kicker, converting 38 extra points and two field goals.
At the college level, he'll likely be projected as an outside linebacker or safety, although Hensley says some coaches may also take a look at him as a receiver.
Programs like Charlotte and Marshall have indicated they may be ready to offer scholarships. Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Purdue and Furman are also among the programs to express interest of late.
"We've had all kinds of schools asking us to come to their camps this summer," Hensley said. "But I told a lot of them, we've already been on two long trips, and we just can't afford to go all over the country. Some of them will have to come to us if they're serious about Cole."
Wilson plans to attend UK's camp on Saturday. After that, he'll take an unofficial visit to Marshall on June 12 and attend Tennessee's camp on June 14.
"UK came by the school to see him, but he wasn't there that day," Hensley said. "We called back and made them aware that we'd be up there for their camp.
"He loved the atmosphere down at Charlotte. It was the first time he's ever been around anything like that. I have a feeling once he sees what it's like at UK, he's going to be even more excited."
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