For our purposes the ebullient evaluation can be credited to pure personality. The confidence part? Now that is something Wilson should legitimately bring into his second August at Mississippi State. He will begin the sophomore season already established in the 2014 lineup and with so, so much more potential yet to be tapped.
Thus, “I have confidence knowing what the coaches expect from me and how much hard work I should put in to be a starting receiver.”
It seems safe enough predicting that come August 30 this lanky soph will indeed be part of the top receiver rotation. That’s where he began this camp after all, a first-team split end opposite old hand Robert Johnson with Jameon Lewis between them, in the slot. Wilson ran first-team in spring too, or at least did when participating at full-speed in practices and scrimmages.
The hold-up was his recovery from a hip issue that nagged away during his voluntary two months with the basketball team. No second-guessing his choice to try a two-sport career is necessary, the situation would likely have developed anyway and required attention. Fortunately Wilson says he’s full-go today…even if during Saturday’s open-to-media session he did head to the sideline for some trainer attention and extra stretching of the groin and hip areas.
Otherwise, “I feel great now since I had the surgery. I want to work harder.”
There’s very good reason for an eager attitude that goes beyond his 26-catch, 351-yard rookie season with three touchdown catches. Wilson is still relatively new to the outdoor sport compared to his hardcourt history. In fact, “This is my first time being in organized football,” Wilson said. As in a structured system that demands precise route-running and blocking ability on the edge. No more can this kid earn a place on raw talent…though goodness knows Wilson brings loads of that to the offense too.
Thus his immediate early-camp focus, on? “Different coverages. Sight adjustment. I’ve learned a lot, I still have a lot to learn, but it’s a wonderful feeling knowing you can get the job done.”
This Bulldog air game ought get their job done in a bigger way than last season. Not that the passing game was any weak link to 2013, understand. But expectations for ’14 are all the greater, given a maturing quarterback of Dak Prescott’s remarkable abilities and a collection of receivers that should be able to meet any matchup. And win.
Fast receivers, tall receivers, physical receivers, smart receivers, and combinations of any and all those aspects can be found on this roster. A deeper roster too, what with the addition of new talents at wideout, in the slot, and tight end to boot. Only a sophomore, Wilson judges them with his now-experienced eyes.
”They have a lot of potential, they can be great. We have a great coach (Billy Gonzales) and he’s going to push us to the limit and put them in the best position they need to be.” With, Wilson stresses, the instruction that no Bulldog receiver lives on any island. This is a true team approach even if it looks like the play is setting up isolated matchups. Take all the balls bound to come Lewis’ way working out of the slot. “If I don’t do my protections right it won’t open him up,” explains Wilson. “It will take me a long way too.”
Football certainly can take Wilson quite a distance in years to come. Maybe there’s a little sad sense about leaving the other game behind. “I miss basketball right now but it’s all about football.” Wilson has nothing to say about whether he’d like to try the two-sport life again as a sophomore for now. Nor will he advise freshman Elijah Staley what to do as a freshman, either. Though, “Elijah is a quarterback and that’s kind of different. Our offense revolves around the quarterback. I can’t tell him it will be hard for him, he’s got to find out for himself.”
In coming weeks, right up to time to begin focused preparations for the opening game, the Mississippi State staff will continue finding out what this fascinating group of receivers can do, along with where and when they should try doing it. For his part, “I learn something every day,” Wilson says.
”It’s new to me. I just feel being humble will carry me a long way and I can go far with that. And I can pass that on to a younger person.” In any talk about his potential Wilson makes a point to bring up staying humble. It’s an encouraging sign of maturity from a young fellow who so easily could take his precocious feats as a freshman, and all the praise received since from fans and media, and get ‘ahead of himself’ somehow.
So far, Wilson is doing just fine keeping his head straight and eyes on the next day’s work. It’s “Just being humble,” he repeats.
”I’ve said that before. I feel me being humble and knowing what I have to do, getting out there and learning the coverages against different defenses. And really being the best person I can be on and off the field.”