Suiting up for DeSoto High School, Wilson took part in the two games in the stadium affectionately known as “Jerryworld” and the third would be the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday as Ohio State takes on Oregon – but Wilson will only play if healthy two months after suffering a broken foot in a Nov. 8 win at Michigan State.
Head coach Urban Meyer has described Wilson – the team’s leader in all-purpose yards when he went down – as probable for the game, but the sophomore gave an even more detailed description at Ohio State’s Saturday media day.
“I’m 95 percent,” he said. “Whenever Coach calls my number, I’m going to go out there and play to the best of my ability. I can run full-speed again, I can cut off of it again. I could have played in the Sugar Bowl but they were being more precautious. I’m glad my team gave me an extra 12 days to get ready for this game. I’m ready.”
Now, Wilson said he only would have played in New Orleans vs. Alabama if the need arose, and since the Buckeyes handled the Crimson Tide there was no reason to force the issue.
But with the Buckeyes taking on Oregon – the team to which he originally committed in the class of 2013 – Wilson would love to get back on the field.
Wilson was the No. 10-rated running back and No. 50 overall player in the class and was projected by some to be the next DeAnthony Thomas in Eugene, but Chip Kelly’s decision to leave Oregon for the Philadelphia Eagles prompted the four-star prospect to open his recruitment.
In swept Ohio State offensive coordinator and Texas recruiter Tom Herman, who looked at the speedy prospect who led DeSoto to the state semifinals as a senior thanks to 1,895 rushing yards, 750 receiving yards and 46 total touchdowns and saw someone perfectly suited for the hybrid back/receiver spot in OSU’s offense.
“It wasn’t tough,” he said. “When Chip Kelly went to the Eagles as a coach, I took my official here. I enjoyed it, and they had just went 12-0. Coach Herman recruited me heavily and they had just come off that 12-0 season and I felt like this was the right decision to make.”
Wilson played last year and was a key reserve for the Buckeyes who saw spot duty at the “H,” starting two games and racking up 22 catches for 210 yards, 250 yards rushing on 8.1 yards per carry, and three total touchdowns.
This year Wilson has caught 21 passes for 300 yards and three scores, rushed 18 times for 100 yards and returned a team-high 22 kicks for 528 yards, an average of 24.0 yards per try, prompting team members to look for his return.
“That would be huge,” wideout Devin Smith said. “Getting everybody back is key, so we’re hoping that he gets fresh and is ready to go. I just miss him being out there. He’s my teammate. He’s a passionate kid when it comes to this sport. He’s a fun kid to be around. That’s what I miss the most about Dontre.”
Wilson’s last appearance of the season should be memorable for Buckeye fans, as he caught a touchdown pass from J.T. Barrett in the fourth quarter of the Michigan State game even after suffering the injury to his foot that has kept him out for the season’s stretch drive.
“It’s a blessing to be here, a blessing to be able to play again,” said Wilson, who did not wear a walking boot at Saturday's media day festivities or at practice. “I’ve been out for six or seven weeks, so I can’t wait to get back out here and show everybody what I can do again.”
For Wilson, it’s not just about a chance to play in front of his home city fans – DeSoto is just south of Dallas – or to play against his one-time school of choice. It’s about putting Ohio State back on the top of the college football map.
“For us to be here in just my second year, we can start a dynasty because the majority of our team is young,” he said. “I feel like we can come back and do it right next year.”