Not many players have the type of high school football experience like Johnny Wilson. The 6-4- 280-pound standout won two state championships at Midland Christian School while also being coached by former NFL lineman Ryan Tucker. With National Signing Day around the corner (Feb. 4), we visited with Midland Christian head coach Greg McClendon about Wilson and his future with the OSU Cowboys.
What are Johnny’s strengths as a football player?
Is there one play or one game that you’ll always remember about Johnny?
McClendon: You name it. He’s got the size and the strength, he’s got outstanding feet he’s got a little bit of a mean streak, and he’s got a high motor, he plays hard every down. All the things you want from an offensive lineman.
What are the areas that he’ll need to improve to play in the Big 12 Conference?
McClendon: Probably just maturing and the speed of the game.
McClendon (chuckling): There’s a lot of them. We could hardly get a schedule this year and the biggest reason was those coaches saw how hard Johnny played every down. It was like a pit bull tossing a rabbit around or something. If they lined up a big one on him, he kicked their tail. So then they kinda said we’ll just put an insignificant in there (and concede that position), and he would throw them six or seven yards in the air. But there was no mercy there. He got after whoever they put in front of him.
Why do you think he chose Oklahoma State?
McClendon: I think he liked the community-feel of Stillwater, and he certainly liked the coaches. That was the environment he wanted to be in. Once he made up his mind, he’s a loyal ol’ dog. Once he made up his mind there was not any questioning it, there was not any thought whether he was going to stay committed. His commitment is as solid as a rock. He’s one of the old school guys. You don’t even need a contract, all you need is a handshake and a nod of the head. He felt like that’s one of the best programs in the Big 12 and has a chance to win national championships, and that’s what he wanted to be a part of.
What type of person is Johnny away from football? Can you talk a little bit about his character traits?
McClendon: He’s a big ol’ nice kid away from the game. But other than that he’s just the same person. He and I have a lot in common because we’re both football 24/7, 365. He doesn’t really have a lot of hobbies. His hobby is getting into the weight room and getting stronger and getting better. He has a tremendous work ethic, and a drive to push every day. He’s kinda a grinder.
What will you remember the most about coaching him?
McClendon: That whatever I needed, if I had a flat tire, he’d be there to help. If I needed fourth-and-inches there was no place else I was going to run other than behind him. He was a solid three-year starter that helped lead us to two state championships. His sophomore and junior year we were a combined 27-1 (and won two state championships) and he was a huge part of that. I think one of the things that makes him really standout is he’s a unique blend of he’s got really good feet, and I think he’ll be even better when he moves into guard or center, but he’s got really good feet for pass protection and on top of that he’s an incredibly fierce run blocker, drive blocker. You don’t find both of those characteristics in very many kids coming out of high school. You usually have to build of one or the other. He’s been under the tutelage of Ryan Tucker, who played at Midland Lee and TCU and then spent 15 years in the NFL and won a Super Bowl with the Rams. He’s got pretty good footwork and mechanics and techniques.
How much had he worked with Ryan Tucker and how much of an influence has the former NFL player had on his development?
McClendon: It’s been huge. Ryan supplied a wealth of knowledge to Johnny from his stance to his steps to fine-tuning his technique. I think Ryan has had an influence on everyone of our linemen, there’s no question. The protection schemes that we ran, I think Johnny will be very well prepared to step in … he’ll be more prepared than any lineman we’ve ever had come out of here to stop in at the college level because we had multiple pass protections that Ryan did at the college level and the professional level, and our kids picked it up quickly. It really wasn’t that difficult stuff but it is so multiple that you have to think and you have to see and you have to be able to react after the ball is snapped and sort out who you’re going to pick up. So I think he’ll be very prepared to make the step.
What else do OSU fans need to know about Johnny?
McClendon: I think OSU got one heck of a football player and a guy who is eat up with the game. I think he knows how to act and knows how to take care of his business. I’m excited to see what he does at the next level.