Anxious Wilson healing, thinking big
DALLAS – Dontre Wilson was committed and all set to play at Oregon. He fit the body type and had the athleticism that helped Chip Kelly take the Oregon program to new heights, and he was less than a month from signing there in 2013.
That’s when Kelly became head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
And if you think Wilson is fast, you should have seen the race by coaches nationwide to DeSoto (Tx.) High School to see him once he re-opened his recruitment.
Ohio State won, securing Wilson’s commitment in late February. Master recruiter Urban Meyer played a big role, but it was Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman’s Texas ties and sales pitch that sealed the deal. Herman and Meyer saw Wilson as a potential game-changer and immediate contributor to an offense that liked to go fast and, at the time, thought it could be a whole lot faster.
Fast is what Wilson does — and it’s what the Ohio State offense has done this season with and without him. Wilson has been out since he broke a bone in his foot in Ohio State’s Nov. 8 win at Michigan State. He scored a touchdown with that broken foot but has been sitting since, and he’s hopeful he’ll play Monday night when Ohio State plays Oregon for the national championship.
"I’m 95 percent," Wilson said Saturday. "I’m anxious. I’m ready for whatever I can get and whenever the coaches call on me."
Wilson said he’s been out of the protective boot on his foot more than he’s been in it recently and that he can run full speed and cut as he’d done before. He was in uniform and warmed up for the Sugar Bowl Jan. 1 vs. Alabama but didn’t play; Meyer said leading up to the Sugar Bowl that Wilson was questionable and would likely be more ready if Ohio State won and advanced.
"They didn’t need me," Wilson said. "I’m thankful my guys got the job done that night and gave me some extra time."
Wilson had 21 catches for 300 yards and three touchdowns and also had 112 rushing yards before suffering the injury. He can also help in the return game and gives Ohio State another big-play threat in a game that shapes up as track meet.
Looking back, Wilson said flipping his commitment "wasn’t tough" because of his relationships with Herman and players who were already at Ohio State. Looking ahead, Herman is leaving to become head coach at the University of Houston but Wilson is part of a loaded sophomore class at Ohio State.
"It’s a blessing to be here, back at home for me and playing for the national championship," Wilson said. "I think when you look at our roster and all the talent on this team, we can be right back here next year.
"Now that we’ve tasted it, now that we know what it takes, I feel like we can play for the national championship again next year — and probably the year after that, too."
Wilson was in full uniform for Ohio State’s Saturday afternoon practice at AT&T Stadium. Wilson said he played two games there in high school, and being back in his home state for the national championship game against Oregon "is like a movie."
He’s hoping to play at least a supporting role.