Year-Round Footballer

Amid the final hysterical weekend of recruiting, the heart of Southeastern Conference basketball season and the commencement of bat and ball season at the University of Alabama, former pro baseball draft prospect and Tide quarterback John Parker Wilson has forgone thoughts of being a two-sport athlete.

John Parker Wilson is participating in the now year-round cycle of football training, lifting weights and participating in mat drills with new strength coach Rocky Colburn, and leading voluntary workouts to keep the skills sharp.

Add a full-time class schedule, and that has left no time to think of picking up a ball glove.

"Right now I'm really focused on football," Wilson said. "With where I need to be, I need to be completely focused on football so I can be ready for next year. I don't think I could totally do that and be completely ready if I had to do baseball. I'm taking it easy with that right now."

Tide baseball Coach Jim Wells has said he would welcome Wilson to try out for the team in the future, noting the change of sporting paths of former quarterback Spencer Pennington. For Wilson, however, it seems to be all football, all the time.

Wilson is trying to adopt the leadership/organization skills Brodie Croyle had. Organizing a seven-on-seven pass skel drill in the off-season and keeping it on schedule and productive didn't happen by itself.

"The way he handled the time, the way the guys looked up to him; I want to get to where I can be like that," Wilson said. "I want to do some of the same things he does like running our off-season stuff and getting the guys there and throwing extra because the coaches can't be there. The coaches aren't making us do anything. We're just doing that on our own."

The pre-spring drills have already started even as Alabama's coaching staff is on the road wrapping up the recruiting class.

"We're in there working on our routes, working on our timing getting back into the groove and getting our timing down," Wilson said. "We've got all the receivers and backs and tight ends out there. We're throwing about twice a week. Right now everybody's getting there classes set. But we'll probably do skel work in a couple of weeks as it gets close to spring."

"Skel" work, meaning skeleton offense vs. defense without the down linemen participating. "We want to get into so we don't miss a beat. We have to do it to stay competitive," Wilson said.

Bama offensive coordinator Dave Rader said at the Cotton Bowl that, "we'd go into [spring training] John Parker number one, Marc Guillon number two, and Jimmy Barnes number three."

Alabama will add Greg McElroy, a quarterback who has verbally committed to the Tide, in the fall.

If Wilson wins the starting job in the spring or fall, it will be his first significant game action since his senior year of high school in 2003. Wilson was a grayshirt, not participating in practice or games in 2004, and last year he was the Tide's backup to Brodie Croyle.

"I took that year off and last year I kind of like I was back in high school waiting on my time," he said. "We'll see how it goes. Right now I feel pretty confident about everything."

Wilson grew out of skepticism about his size during that time off, and is now six feet, two inches – at least. "I think I've grown a little bit. I haven't measured myself but I think I've gotten a little taller. I weighed in at 212 yesterday," he said.

One thing Wilson has had to try to shake off in the past year was an off-the-field incident that made headlines, as tends to happen when you're a quarterback at Alabama. Wilson was arrested for driving under the influence in the early Sunday morning hours after the Tide's 13-10 win against Ole Miss.

Wilson addressed the incident this week honesty and understanding of his high profile position.

"It was blown up -- of course it was a big deal, but it was blasted all over the place," he said. "I've tried to not worry about it – I've worried about it. I've learned from it. Just moved on. Learn from it and just go from there."

Even as a sophomore to be, Wilson wants to be considered a team leader.

"I know I have to be a leader and a lot of people are going to look up to me," he said. "I try to do all the little things, try to lead more by example than ‘Rah, rah' just try to do the right thing so everybody can see and follow me."

Wilson's younger brother, Ross, faces a similar circumstance as John Parker. He is a rising senior quarterback at Hoover who also has great baseball potential. For football, it is very early in the recruiting process.

"He's pretty wide open right now," John Parker said. "He had a pretty good year in football. He had better stats than I did my junior year and he's a big time baseball prospect. When I was a senior he started as a freshman at third base. He's been playing short since I left."

Is he a better baseball player than his older brother?

"Yeah. He's good. He's an athlete. He went up to a showcase up in Wilmington, East Coast professional showcase, and was one of the only juniors there and stood out. He's got a chance to do some stuff with baseball. He likes football a lot. He wants to see what happens.

"He runs the ball a little better than I do. We do a lot of the same stuff but he runs a little better than I do."


BamaMag Top Stories