Determination. A word that has defined Zach Wilson's football career thus far. The California native's college football career did not start like you would think. The 2015 high school graduate didn't have the grades required until it was too late.
This is not to say that he was the stereotypical athlete who neglects school for sports. No no. Wilson was placed in advanced classes from the beginning but struggled with the course work. He made adjustments to his approach to school and sought out help for his studies. Unfortunately, by the time his grades were on par and his SAT scores came in, schools moved on and he was left without a team to play for.
Boise State, UW and UCLA are among the schools that were interested in him prior to his stint of ineligibility. Determined to play for an FBS team he committed himself to his academic studies and decided to attend Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, California.
This nearly proved to be a costly gamble as many of the teams interested in him began to pull away due to his decision to grayshirt. Wilson committed to maintaining his full eligibility and worked hard to improve his skills. He even hired an athletic trainer to aid in his efforts.
Last week, his hard work and sacrifice was finally realized when he formally committed to the University of Hawaii. The 6-foot, 175 pound defensive back will be the second to be added to the spring roster.
In his final year of high school he totaled 41 tackles, 3 interceptions, deflected 8 passes and forced a fumble. For his outstanding season he earned second-team Baseline-league honors.
He also competed in track doing sprints and relays in his high school athletics career.
His measureables on ESPN show his SPARQ scores that were tested back in March of 2014 and to be honest they seem oddly underwhelming. Most notably is his slow 40 yard dash
and 20 yard shuttle times (Update: 4.27 is an above average to good shuttle time).
Time/Score (nation's best)
|40 Yard Dash||5.00 (4.32)|
|20 Yard Shuttle||4.27 (3.78)|
|Power Throw||33 (43)|
|SPARQ Score||73.98 (139.26)|
His tape gave me the impression that Wilson wasn't a burner but a 5.0 dash time is extremely slow. For those who may not know, this time is comparable to an offensive lineman. No doubt with the football trending towards a passing friendly game having a defensive back that constantly gets burned will not be acceptable. However, speed isn't everything and he shows great ability to close in on the ball quickly.
Wilson describes himself as a shutdown corner that likes to play aggressive at the line. He touts himself as being a physical defender that will make you earn your catches.
He see's himself playing a lot of man coverage but in viewing his highlights it seemed his best work came off reads. Wilson was often able to make plays by reading the quarterback and the route to cut if off. He does stick to his man well on quick and vertical routes but can get shook off with a double move. His best plays come when he can keep his eyes towards ahead to read the whole play.
In the end his lack of speed may turn out to be a liability but in all honesty he would make a great safety. I believe his tackling ability and solid football intelligence makes him a prime candidate for the position. He should get an early look with the loss of Marrell Jackson. No doubt the Hawaii coaching staff got a good one. Wilson is exactly the type of person you need to help turnaround the Rainbow Warrior program.
Zach Wilson's story is a good one to keep track of and thanks to his commitment to his dream he gives us plenty of time to follow it.
Credit to Scout.com for their interviews with Zach Wilson which shed light on the newest member of the UH Football team.
Stay tuned for more profiles of the 2016 recruiting class and more updates as the 2015-2016 Rainbow Warrior offseason rolls on.