A healthy Duwyce Wilson ready for big year

After battling injuries the past two years, fifth-year senior wide receiver Duwyce Wilson is pushing for playing time at a position loaded with talent. Now finally healthy, he's ready to have a breakout year.

The Indiana offense figures to put up some remarkable numbers this year, including finishing the season with four receivers cracking the 1,000-yard mark for their careers.

One of those receivers will do it quietly even though he probably should have been the first of the four to get there.

Redshirt senior Duwyce Wilson enters the 2013 season with 935 career receiving yards, and yet it still feels like Indiana fans have barely seen him play. Wilson missed the final three games of the 2011 season after tearing his ACL, then played through a painful sports hernia in 2012.

Finally healthy, the 6-3, 201-pound wide out is primed for a breakout year.

"It's just a terrible thing when you tear your ACL, especially for Duwyce, when he was about to be the breakout guy," senior wide receiver Kofi Hughes said. "It should have been him. He literally is the best athlete, one of the highest jumpers. He's long, lanky, makes the crazy catches."

Wilson started his collegiate career off well. After redshirting his freshman year, he made 32 receptions for 488 yards and three touchdowns in 2010. He was named to a couple of dot.com All-Freshman teams.

Then came the ACL tear in 2011, in which he finished with just 17 catches for 217 yards and two touchdowns. Last season he caught 12 balls for 230 yards and a touchdown while suffering through the hernia.

His willingness to play through pain did not go unnoticed.

"That's the type of guys you want, that go out there and compete and be a man," offensive coordinator Seth Littrell said. "We're all going to hurt. It's a matter of are you injured or are you hurt? And you've got to fight through it if you are."

Littrell said often times players coming off injuries are hesitant, especially receivers. He said that's not a problem with Wilson and expects him to perform at a high level this season.

"He's obviously a great part of our program," Littrell said. "Great guy, everybody in that locker room looks up to him as an older guy and as a leader. I definitely think he can have a big year and he will. I think he's worked extremely hard to get back and he's done a lot of great things this summer in the weight room also it looks like."

Wilson credits the strength and conditioning staff for helping him back to full strength. He said he feels like he's gotten back to his top speed and where he was as a freshman and sophomore.

Even so, to be fully healthy again is a feeling he couldn't quite describe.

"I can't put it into words because I feel like I've been injured for a long time now, so being healthy finally, it's just a great feeling," Wilson said. "I love coming out here every single day. I love what I do out here and I love my teammates, so I couldn't ask for anything better."

While Wilson was working his way back to the football field he had the support of Hughes, his roommate of two years.

Wilson said he and Hughes "hit it off" shortly after Hughes arrived in 2010. Hughes has been to Wilson's house for Thanksgiving; Wilson has visited Hughes' home as well.

Though Wilson and Hughes are particularly close, that sort of camaraderie extends to the rest of the receiving corps. 

"All of us are like brothers," Wilson said. "If you sat with us you wouldn't even know if we had different parents or not."

The brotherly love also spurs competition that mimics sibling rivalry. It's as if these players all came from a gene pool that breeds talented receivers.

"It's just like having a brother or a close relative growing up," Wilson said. "You compete against each other every day but it's a friendly competition. But then again you're always trying to better the other man. By doing that you make him better so it's great for all of us."

There's Hughes, who leads the way with 1,127 career receiving yards. Then comes junior Cody Latimer with 946 yards. Wilson has 935. The diminutive but speedy slot receiver, junior Shane Wynn, has 857.

For opposing defenses, it's pick your poison. There is no shortage of weapons in the receiving corps.

For the receivers, that means letting up in practice is not an option.

"The depth chart — it's liable to change every day if you don't bring it," Wilson said. "So everybody's out here bringing their ‘A' game every single day."

As they fight for position on the depth chart, fans will debate which one is most talented, or which one is the best.

Pay little attention to Wilson's career totals when making that evaluation. To this point, he's been robbed of the opportunity to reach his full potential.

IU fans may finally get to see the real Duwyce Wilson.

"I just really want to see him go out there and have a good season because he really deserves it," Hughes said. "He really is one of the best receivers."

Follow Joe Popely on Twitter at Twitter.com/joepopely

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