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Jets WR Garrett Wilson: 'Hope to Prove to the World That We're Here to Stay'

Rookie Wide Receiver Leads the Green & White With 42 Catches


Decisions. Jets rookie wide receiver Garrett Wilson is only 22, but he's already made a couple of momentous decisions.

Though he was born in Columbus, Ohio, and grew up in Chicago, he and his family moved to Austin, TX, when he was 11. There he set several records at Lake Travis High School, a veritable pipeline of talent to the University of Texas Longhorns.

But Wilson felt the pull of C-Bus and enrolled at Ohio State.

In this week's edition of "The Official Jets Podcast," Wilson told team reporter Eric Allen that football wasn't even his favorite sport -- basketball was. He came to his preference honestly. His dad, Kenny Wilson, was a star in college at Davidson (where he is the school's seventh-leading career scorer) and played briefly in the NBA. Garrett Wilson was sought after by several Division 1 college hoops coaches, but he had other ideas.

"I was a 5-11, a 6-0-type point guard," Wilson said. "My pops played, he's 6-5. If I was 6-5, I'd probably still be a point guard. It was a business decision. Hoops was my first love. I love football, too. Playing at 6-0, I can get to the rim, but it's just a whole lot harder to get the ball off. I was a great finisher, but the league [NBA] is turning, guys are 7-0, even 7-6. It was a business decision going to college to play football. I wanted to give myself a chance to make this a long-term success."

And the New York Jets are happy with the other good decision he made.

Wilson was picked No. 10 in the 2022 NFL Draft, sandwiched between No. 4 Sauce Gardner and No. 26 Jermaine Johnson, the team's three first-round picks.

"It's some dogs in there, so many dogs in there bring something different to the table, to this team," Wilson said about the Jets' entire 2022 draft class. "We all know we're rookies, but we want to have an impact, we want to be people that can be relied on. I think we're doing a good job. It's about being consistent, and I think the facility is noticing."

So far this season, the willowy Wilson leads the Green & White with 42 receptions for 521 yards ahead of Sunday's rematch against the Patriots in Foxborough, MA. In his first game against New England, on Oct. 30, Wilson made 6 catches for 115 yards (19.2 yards a catch average), including his season-long reception from QB Zach Wilson, which went for 54 yards.

After a slight lull in production during October, the team of Wilson & Wilson has bounced back and has had an impact.

"We've just been building since he [Zach Wilson] got back, really since camp even though there was a hiccup when he got hurt," the electrifying rookie receiver said. "Ever since he got back, we've continued to build, not just from the film and in practice, it's our relationship. He has the same mindset, always trying to improve, he comes into the [WRs] room and talks about what we can do to exploit something he saw on film. For me personally, me being a young dude and him being a young dude, it's great for me because I need to hear what the quarterback is thinking. I want to be what he wants me to be, I want to be whatever he wants me to be. I want to get the ball as much as possible and make the play. Every play he wants to throw to me, it's important to be on the same page and hitting on all cylinders when it comes to Sunday."

The Jets will be seeking their fifth straight road win of the season (for only the third time in franchise history), a streak that could match the start of the 2010 season, which coincidentally, was the last time the team went to the playoffs. Wilson said that the success on the road, which began with the incredible comeback win at Cleveland (when Wilson caught the winning TD pass from Joe Flacco) set the stage for what has come after -- wins at Pittsburgh, at Green Bay and at Denver -- that brought an eerie silence in enemy territory.

"When you're the road team we have to embrace those moments, we're the underdogs, the ones everyone wants to see fail," he said. "We've done a great job with that and hopefully can carry it into the second half of the season. The mentality is that we have something to prove, that we can turn this into our place.

"And our stadium is a whole lot different than in the first three weeks [of the season]. The last couple have been electric, it's really special playing up here especially when we're winning, I can't imagine any other place being better than this. And off the field, everything at your feet in a 25-mile radius. Every day I wake up, I think about what I am going to do today. It's really special out here."

See top photos of the 2022 Jets rookie class during the first nine weeks of the season.

So far this season, Wilson has had success in the slot and out wide. Either works for the rookie who is committed to "getting better every day."

"I've put some balls on the ground, had some drops early," he said. "I started in camp, OTAs actually, and carried into the start of the season. I'm getting into routes blocking-wise, watching the film. Dig deep and you'll find something. I'm not watching how I've scored a TD, I'm watching how I could score faster and make it easier for me. I have to find something to improve on every day, keep building. If you don't, you start to fall off. Things have not been too bumpy, but know I left some plays on the field."

Even as he begins to forge his own path in the NFL, Wilson (the middle child of five siblings) looks back with reverence at those basketball jamborees with his "pops" and his brothers.

"We all played growing up and we got good at playing our pops," Wilson said. "There were so many lessons, He wasn't just going to let you win. I was the first brother to beat him, when I was in eighth grade, he couldn't guard me. But if I played him in H-O-R-S-E, I'd lose. He's trying to guard me and I blow by him, using my speed. There were so many great lessons, three brothers and dad, competitive talking-trash with pops. We were going at it since I was a young kid watching older brothers compete with pops. I wanted to be involved and felt like I was left out when they said I was not old enough let me."

In his early days in the NFL, Wilson is proving if you're good enough, you're old enough.

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