Alabama QB Likes What He Sees At UT

As Tennessee fell behind Georgia 20-7 at the half of Saturday's SEC showdown, many Vol fans began plotting the quickest course to an exit, but John Parker Wilson was trying to figure a way to get back in the game.

Wilson was faced with a similar situation the night before as quarterback of defending 6A Alabama state champion Hoover High School which found itself trailing Vestavia Hills at the half 21-7. Wilson led the Buccaneers to touchdowns in four of their five possessions in the final 24 minutes of action before a failed two-point conversion ended the comeback at 36-34. The 6-2,190-pound senior signal caller passed for 430 yards and four touchdowns in the game, exhibiting the skills and poise that make him one of the south's rising football stars.

Such individual performances are nothing new to Wilson, who became Hoover's starter late in his sophomore season and took the Bucs to the state title game where he passed for 370 yards in another tough loss. As a junior, he compiled 2,800 yards through the air to lead Hoover back to the state finals and redemption, as the Bucs beat Montgomery's Jeff Davis High School for the most coveted crown in Alabama scholastic athletics.

Hoover was undefeated at 6-0, ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 18 in the nation before Friday's dramatic road setback. Wilson, who is 22-3 as a starter, is on pace for a personal best campaign with 2,162 yards and 22 touchdowns against five interceptions through seven games. More remarkably, he's completing passes at a sizzling 71 percent clip. Naturally, the competitive Wilson has his sites set on another 6-A state championship and another shot at Vestavia Hills High School.

"This has been my best season," he said. "I feel like all the guys look up to me. I've been there and in a close ball game I want the ball. I think everybody else is comfortable with me having the ball. I just try to lead everybody and be positive and try to keep everybody up and going."

Besides keeping his teammates spirits buoyant and their confidence high, Wilson also keeps the Bucs' version of the west coast offense airborne.

"We run the same type of offense that Texas Tech does," he said. "It's a control passing game but we throw it down field quite a bit. We have some good receivers. We have about six receivers who catch the ball."

Prior Friday's defeat, Hoover knocked off national power Evangel Christian Academy of Shreveport, La., by a score of 21-14. In a 35-10 victory over Spain Park, Wilson connected on 27-of-33 passes for 299 yards after starting the game with ten consecutive completions. Between those victories Wilson brought Hoover back from a 10-3 first quarter deficit to defeat Tuscaloosa High School 57-24, hitting 19-of-27 passes for 430 yards and seven touchdowns before sitting out the fourth quarter. That effort earned him Birmingham News Player of the Week honors along with a share of the state record for most TD passes in a game as he tied current Crimson Tide starter Brodie Croyle's mark.

"I think my arm strength and accuracy are strong points," he said. "My presence in the pocket is pretty strong. I like to stay back there. I move around when I need to, but my line does a pretty good job of keeping them off."

When Wilson decides to take off his 4.62 speed makes him a legitimate running threat as his five rushing TDs this season attest. He also has a quick mind as evidenced by his high GPA and ACT.

"I'm really not sure what I'm going to major in yet," he said. "I scored a 24 on my ACT and I have a 3.5 grade point average. I'm going to take the ACT again and try to score higher."

That type of academic and athletic background will give you a lot of choices when it comes to scholarships and Wilson has a growing list of offers and admirers, including several from the SEC and ACC.

"I have an offer from Alabama," said Wilson who also has offers from Duke, Georgia Tech and MTSU. "Auburn is not recruiting me at all. I'm not going to say anything about that. Tennessee, Ole Miss and Clemson are the other schools I'm looking at right now and they have all offered."

Although Wilson remains unsure of where he'll go or what he'll study, he has some definitive ideas about what he's looking for in a football program.

"I want to go somewhere that's going to be successful; where I have a chance to succeed and to fight for a starting position," he said. "I'd like to have a balanced offense. I think you have to be balanced. The coaches will play a role in my decision, too."

Alabama appears to be the early favorite for Wilson's services, but he did like what he saw on his unofficial visit to Knoxville and recognizes the opportunity for early playing time.

"I went to Tennessee on Saturday and I really liked it a lot," he said. "I like all the coaches there. I think they do a good job and I enjoyed being around them a lot. I like the playing situation at Tennessee. I'd like to be able to play next fall. That's something I'd really like to try and do."

Wilson, who is being recruited by UT's Woody McCorvey, said his favorite quarterback is Green Bay's Brett Favre. In addition to being a hot football prospect, he's also an outstanding baseball talent and could be selected in next spring's Major League Draft, according to The Insider's Scott Kennedy.

"He's a heady QB for one of the top programs in the south," Kennedy said. "He knows how to win, has a strong enough arm to make the necessary throws, and he has excellent mobility. He's a top notch baseball prospect that could go in June's Draft."

With a name like Wilson, it's hard to believe the nation's No. 39 rated quarterback prospect would choose baseball over football. Besides, he's very enamored with the idea of playing before big crowds in the type of pressure game he witnessed in Knoxville.

"I went through the Vol Walk and I liked it a lot," he stated. "It was pretty cool. I like the atmosphere a lot. It was really loud at the start of the game. I think that's the kind of place you want to go play in. I'd hate to be the other quarterback coming in there and trying to check off at the line and not be able to hear yourself talk. I can't see how that would not attract you. I'd like to be there at a big place and be the big guy, but that's just me."

The Vols have an future opening for a quarterback and Wilson might just be the big guy to fill it. After all, Georgia's David Greene wasn't ranked among the nation's top 30 QBs as a high school senior either.

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