Wilson, 'Play with relentless effort'

USC defensive line coach Chris Wilson spoke one-on-one with Scout about his move from Georgia to Southern California and taking over a talented Trojan defensive line...

At first glance, he seems to be an outlier.

Chris Wilson, the Trojans new defensive line coach, is the one coach hired on Steve Sarkisian's USC staff whose common denominators are the most distant.

Wilson spent the last year coaching the defensive line at Georgia; his previous five seasons all spent at Mississippi State.

He didn't coach with Sarkisian at Washington. He didn't grow up in Southern California. He wasn't a part of USC's previous staff.

But the seemingly laid-back, warm, and collected 17-year collegiate coaching veteran will undoubtedly fit right in on the West Coast, a place he's found himself in large part because of football in the South.

The connection between Wilson and USC started with Trojan defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and recruiting coordinator and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon, who both previously coached at Tennessee.

"It was really one of those situations where Coach Wilcox and I had mutual friends and we have known each other," Wilson explained to Scout. "Coach Wilcox and Coach Peter had been in the SEC and we had known each other's work from afar. But it was really just one of those things where, it's just kind of happenstance."

"We are thrilled to add Chris Wilson to our coaching staff," Sarkisian said when the hire was announced. "He is one of the premier defensive line coaches in the country and he is also a great recruiter."

Wilson's career has led him as far west as Colorado, where he spent five years as the defensive line coach from 2000-04 before leaving for a position at Oklahoma, his alma mater.

Now in Los Angeles, Wilson says it's easy to understand the draw to Southern California, as he stood outside on another bright February day.

"You can't beat 75 and sunny," he said. "But more than anything, great people and a lot of good players.

"The biggest thing you notice from the South to here is just the number of players that are in a central location," Wilson explained. "Just here in the state of Southern California. You don't have to go very far to shop for our groceries here."

Though USC won't have to go far from Southern California to find top talent, especially in the 2015 recruiting class, Wilson will still be tasked to help recruit the Southern region.

"'SC has a brand that is worldwide," he explained, "which makes us probably more unique than any place in college football. We're available to all great players, so that's the great thing about having the USC brand on your side."

Wilson, 45, says when recruiting he's always looking for the type of player who not only has the proper skillset, but enjoys the recruiting process. "It's a grind," he said.

Wilson inherits one of the most productive defensive lines of the 2013 season. USC finished ranked in the top 30 of multiple defensive categories including team sacks, total defense, and rushing defense. The Trojans finished the year with the top-ranked red zone defense.

USC players have yet to workout for their new staff, something that won't happen until spring practices open March 11, but Wilson says he's watched plenty of film from the year and has easily identified what kind of group he'll be working with.

"[They have a] high IQ," he said. "[They're] smart guys who understand the process, which means they understand more than just Saturdays. They understand the things you have to do Monday through Friday. [They're] very competitive, so I am excited about this group and obviously as we go we just want to keep developing depth."

Wilson's group will now be led by junior defensive end Leonard Williams, who according to multiple NFL scouts and general managers, has the ability to become a top ten NFL draft pick in 2015.

"The thing that you notice once you watch the tape is how much [Williams] enjoys playing football," said Wilson. "He's physical, he can play in any league, he's the kind of guy you want to have in your program, not just from a talent standpoint, but from a production standpoint and leadership standpoint."

When spring ball opens in just over two weeks, Wilson says his new players will need to be ready to give their best in every drill, every repetition.

"You have to play this game with relentless effort," he said. "You need a lot of good players to do that, and two you need to be the most physical team in the ballpark every night.

"Those are the two things that we've got to hang our hat on week in and week out."

An outlier at first glace, but Wilson is already soaking up the California sun and working to pick his Trojans up right where they left off.

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