"I can say I'm very confident. Because now I'm just attacking it. I can go full-pace, I can feel a little comfortable with the people around me, with the quarterbacks, know where the ball is going to be placed at the right time."
Not so surprisingly the football is being placed, or at least pointed, in Wilson's direction often this spring. Why not? By the end of his 2013 true freshman season Wilson was one of the go-to guys running routes. Now here he is, beginning his first spring at State as a first-team rotation receiver. By the way, don't overlook that ‘first spring' part. Everything Wilson did last fall was essentially learning on-the-job and trying to find college speed. Or SEC speed which is another sort of level.
So strange as it seems, only now does Wilson get to practice some of the finer points of pass-catching. This after he hauled in 26 balls in real games, for 351 yards and three touchdowns.
"Yeah, it's a little different. Like coming in last year I really didn't know how to work hard in football. Because I was learning the game, it was like a new experience for me. So I'd say knowing my role, now I've really got it down pat. And I know what the team needs me to do, and what I'm capable of doing."
That's the key to spring. After the impressive true-frosh year, Wilson and team want to find out all that this Dog can do. It's interesting that in fan minds the kid is already a SEC star. Making clutch catches in an Egg Bowl victory surely does accelerate a reputation. "Yeah, it's not what the fans think! It's what I think right now," Wilson says.
And what he says about his current stage of development is… "I have a lot of learning to do. So I give myself a ‘C' average because of the results I had last year." If 2013 was a ‘C' the MSU mind boggles at what an ‘A' would look like. Wilson is honest but he's also ambitious and does believe he can become a great—even very terrific—Bulldog ballplayer.
"Yeah, I see the potential if I keep working hard and having guys like Dak Prescott and Jameon Lewis in my ear, Damian Williams, and just the guys that tell me the little things to do. They make me a better player."
Wilson can and should become a better all-around ballplayer. The athletic gifts are certainly there, packaged in a long, tall frame that makes for an easy downfield target no matter how crowded the secondary becomes. He is not the fastest wideout on the roster, but Wilson is fast enough. More to the point he is so fluid in motion that he makes things look easier than they are. At least that is one media member's opinion and Wilson happens to agree.
"I like that!" he grins. More seriously, he says he has enough speed. "I can run! And I work hard, too. Smooth, Jerry Rice was smooth and he ran a 4.7! I know I can run faster than a 4.7!" And if he isn't going to out-run most SEC cornerbacks, well, Wilson says he doesn't expect to. Here he will use his height and reach to better advantage, most notably at his specialty of working the sidelines and corners.
"That's one of my favorite routes I love to run, is the out-route. I really got that route down pat and I know how to keep the defender off me by using my size." His trick now is learning how to apply that size, and increasing college strength, when the ball is not coming to him. That is, blocking those small fast corners or hard-hitting safeties. During this spring camp the Bulldog offense has shown some twists on the bubble-screen that have Wilson blocking for another split end or flanker.
"And me blocking on the perimeter really helps the team in the long run. It's very challenging. But if you work at it you'll get it down pat. Like you've got to use your feet, too. For you to even try to get his side of the defender you have to use your feet."
Footwork would seem to be a strength already based on Wilson's prowess in another sport. A high school basketball star, he has played on hardwood—organized ball that is—far more than on gridiron grass. Opportunity to play both games in the SEC influenced his college choice. Though, his winter wasn't the same sort of success as his fall, with limited minutes in reserve forward duty. Wilson also strained the groin a bit, per Coach Rick Ray, though he says now it wasn't a big deal.
"My body got to me a little bit. But nothing serious." He says there were benefits to a couple months of basketball that will apply to football. "I'd say running routes. Deep balls, you know, I've got a little quicker and I can move." He's completely non-committal though on whether he'll try the two-sport thing as a sophomore.
"I might give it a chance next year, but like I was saying I'm just focusing on football right now."
In turn attention will keep coming this kid's way from outside and even inside the locker room. Yes, he's a junior—OK, sophomore—member of the football firm. Funny thing though is performance earns a bonus bit of status with the squad. Wilson was shy to assert himself for a couple of months but is speaking out more often these spring days. What the coaches call showing some personality to go with the performance.
"I'm settled, you know? I had a position I had to maintain, just a role. And everybody is really a leader. When I first came in everybody was working the same. And if you work hard and you manage to do what you're supposed to do, you're a leader." One among many, it needs noting. This is an interesting group of split and slot receivers, but the chemistry has been bubbling in the right ways.
"It feels good like that, having everybody come back. Like the leader Jameon, and just Coach G (Billy Gonzales), he pushes us to the limit. And it just feels good to have the same group around you that works hard and pushes you to the limit."
Wilson's limit is out of present sight because he's still just tapping into all that potential. He does say, now, that yes, his ambition is to be the #1 receiving target. Not just on the team but in the SEC. "Yeah, I really do. I really do.
"You know, you've got have the little things down pat. And you've got to just think about it on your own that OK, I'm the number-one receiver, I have to go out here and just do what Coach tells me to do." And, do it in spring ball just the same as in real fall games, Wilson stresses.
"Because we're trying to make a run, man. We're trying to shock the world. Us getting on the same page in the spring will help us with the 15-game stretch in the fall." 15 games? Yeah, that would be great. Even very terrific.