After weeks of speculation, weeks of mock drafts and weeks of anticipation, the Jets made BYU quarterback Zack Wilson the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
"There's not another team I'd want to play for besides the Jets," Wilson said on NFL Network after being drafted on Thursday night. "We're going to be a special team. We're going for the Super Bowl."
In a message to dedicated Jets fans, Wilson had this to say to Eric Allen on nyjets.com: "I can't even explain how excited I am to be a part of this fanbase, this culture and this team. I'll give it everything I have to make sure I flip this thing around. I can't wait to work with my teammates. I can't wait to get to the facility to work with them."
In Cleveland on Thursday night, Wilson, who will turn 22 in August, was surrounded by family and friends as he waited for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to call his name. When the time came, Wilson bounced down the runway, high-fiving several delirious Jets fans who made the trip to rainy Ohio. As he slapped palms, several times Wilson bellowed, "Let's go, let's go."
"Hey, I'm pumped," he said. "I can't wait to get started."
The 2020 college season was pivotal for the 6-2, 214-pound QB who threw for 3,692 yards, 33 TDs, only 3 INTs while he also rushed for 10 TDs. Wilson admitted to a number of struggles in his freshman and sophomore seasons, part of which was having to deal with injuries to his shoulder and hand.
"I learned amazing things from those years," he said. "I made a lot of mistakes, but I learned from them. Going into my junior year I had a healthy shoulder and hand, the confidence of the team was at an all-time high. I felt we could compete with anyone. We had all the pieces and I was able to put it together."
He added: "That chip on my shoulder comes from my past. I was never the biggest, the most sought-after recruit. My situation, coming from the bottom, I've always had something to prove to myself, I've always had doubters."
Wilson's versatility and familiarity with the West Coast offense, which Head Coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur will bring to the Jets, appear to be a perfect fit of quarterback and system. The "Shanahan System" relies on a lot of play-action, screens, outside zone runs and jet sweeps, all tied to pre-snap motions.
"That West Coast-style offense that Coach LaFleur and Coach Saleh are going to bring in," Wilson said, "is exactly, you know, if I had to write exactly the offense I'd want to play in, it would be it right there."
Wilson, a big fan of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, added: "The system is so quarterback friendly. It's reliant on a strong, powerful run game, and ability for deception -- make defense think one thing then hit a pass over the middle over their heads. There's so much variation, it's what makes it [the offense] so quarterback friendly.
"I think [the new offense is] so similar to BYU. A ton of shifts, motions, a little bit of pro-style under center, pushing the ball down the field, play-action pass. I think that that West Coast style of offense that coach LaFleur, coach Saleh are going to bring in is exactly ... if I had to write exactly the offense I'd want to play in, it would be right there. I think the coaching staff is exactly what I needed and the scheme is right there, so I can't wait to start learning it."
As the new Baby Face of the franchise, Wilson said that he is prepared for the culture shock that will come from moving from Utah to the New York/New Jersey area. He's unfazed and ready to dive in.
"I would play the game for free," he said. "I love the thrill, the passion that goes into it. Competitive people can't really explain it. The butterflies you get in your stomach when you walk out in front of 100,000 fans. It's truly amazing. I'm going to give everything I have for this team, this organization."
See the Best Photos of QB Zach Wilson in Cleveland and the Scene when the Jets Selected OL Alijah Vera-Tucker