Jets first-round draft choice Zach Wilson is a walking, talking game of Trivial Pursuit: Football Edition. Here are six facts to know about the interesting young man who now becomes the Green & White's quarterback of the present and future:
He's Got a Few Chips on His ... Wrist?
Wilson's done his share of achieving as a starting QB, at Corner Canyon HS in Utah and at BYU, but that hasn't stopped him from viewing the chip on his shoulder once in a while. Or maybe he'll focus on a different part of his anatomy, looking at the bracelets he wears on his wrist during games. One band reads "Leave a Legacy" while the other advises "Prove Them Wrong."
"My whole life, I feel like I've always come from the bottom," Wilson said in a story on kslsports.com in November. "I've never been the guy that's had so many scholarship offers or was known as the big-time high school recruit. ... It's kind of a motto I've lived by my whole life. I came here to BYU and no one expected me to play and we had so many other quarterbacks in front of me. I got injured; no one expected me to come back from it."
But he's convinced many knowledgeable observers that he's got the right kind of chip to wind up in the chips as a pro.
"This kid's got some good wiring," ESPN college analyst Kirk Herbstreit has said. "I love guys that are out to prove everybody wrong, [but] I think he's not emotional about it. ... It's like an internal fire that's burning, that I think is real."
Wilson's biggest supporters are his family, headed by parents Mike and Lisa Wilson, described in deseret.com as "well-off small business owners" and long-time University of Utah fans. In fact, Mike played DT for the Utes in the Nineties, but despite coming from the other side of the ball, he worked with his son on playing quarterback every year. This after Zach decided in youth football that he didn't want to be an O-linemen getting hit regularly by massive D-tackles and instead wanted the ball in his hands, at QB and at pointguard on the basketball court.
When it came time to choose a college, the Wilsons were said to be unhappy that both Utah and Brigham Young, due to having scholarships with other QBs, didn't pursue Zach and he wound up committing to Boise State. But after a coordinator change, BYU HC Kalani Sitake prevailed upon the family to make one more recruiting trip to Provo.
At the end of the four-hour visit, Sitake clinched the deal. As Zach explained:
"He said if I came to BYU, I could drive home every Sunday night and eat dinner with my family. That meant a lot to me."
He's No. 1
Wilson perhaps not surprisingly has an affinity for number 1. That was his uniform number as a junior and senior at Corner Canyon and for all three seasons at BYU.
It's too soon to say that will be his Jets number, but if he decides to ride on Route 1, he'd be at least the fourth QB in the NFL projected to wear that number in 2021. Last year, Patriots veteran Cam Newton, Dolphins rookie Tua Tagovailoa and Arizona second-year man Kyler Murray were the only "No. 1" QBs in the regular season.
Wilson would also be the first Jets QB to wear 1 since Michael Vick donned his iconic number in the 2014 preseason and regular season in his only season as a Jet. And before Vick, four Jets non-QBs wore it in the regular season from 2000-13 — kickers Mike Nugent (2005-08) and Brett Conway (2000) and punters Ryan Quigley (2013) and Matt Turk (2002).
Young 'Un ... Young Gun
Wilson is 21 years of age and will turn 22 shortly after the start of his first training camp. Looking ahead, if Wilson starts on opening day, which for the Jets will probably be Sunday, Sept. 12, he will become the second-youngest QB, behind Sam Darnold, to start for the Green & White, and with a win he would move in behind Darnold as the second-youngest to post his first win as a Jets QB.
Too much Jets youth, you say? Just be advised that currently, the second-youngest Jets QB to start and win for the first time is Joe Namath. Joe was 22 years, 118 days for his first start, at Buffalo on Sept. 26, 1965, and he was 22 years, 167 days for his first starting win, at Boston on Nov. 14, 1965.
See Top Photos of the No. 2 Overall Selection in the 2021 NFL Draft
Zach Wilson is of Hawaiian ancestry. His middle name, Kapono, means "righteous" in the Hawaiian language. Because of his roots, he was voted as the co-Polynesian College Football Player of the Year for 2020, sharing the honor with Southern Cal safety Talanoa Hufanga, who was also in the 2021 draft along with Wilson.
The award is presented by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee, which includes former Jets center Kevin Mawae, the Pro Football Hall of Famer and an inductee in the Polynesian hall's 2014 inaugural class, as well as chairman Jack "The Throwin' Samoan" Thompson and former NFL head coach Dick Vermeil.
A Major Project
It's not impossible to get one's college degree in three years, but we haven't heard that Wilson is grabbing his sheepskin after that period of time.
But his BYU major was reported to be construction management. A school website describes the discipline as "a professional service that focuses on each part of the construction process of any built environment: the project's schedule, cost, quality, scope, and function. ... Construction managers are uniquely qualified through combined education and field experience to work with all individuals involved."
Sounds like a fitting pursuit for young Zach Wilson, who figures to be uniquely qualified, through his experience in the room and on the field, to set to work on his new construction project with all the individuals he'll be involved with in the coming years on the Green & White.