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Injuries and inconsistency have slowed the career of Wilson, a high school star who has yet to fully develop for the Buckeyes. However, he is one of the top players scouts are watching to break out in 2009.
The top-rated Ohio high school prospect at his position (and the starting center for a couple of LeBron James' St. Vincent-St. Mary basketball teams), Wilson played in all but one game as a true freshman (making two tackles) and looked to be on his way to greatness as part of a deep rotation during the 2006 season (17 tackles, five for loss, three sacks two forced fumbles).
Then the tough times began. He started the opening game of the 2007 season against Youngstown State, making two tackles and a sack before falling prey to a broken right leg. After a year of rehab, he came out of 2008 fall camp a starter. Wilson had 18 tackles, 2.5 for loss, a sack and an interception in seven games before suffering a torn ACL against Purdue.
A healthy 2009 is crucial for Wilson to fulfill his potential as a strong but athletic force on the outside. He showed enough in his early 2008 play, however, to give scouts good reason not to doubt his ability to come back from the knee injury a better player.
Pass rush: Brings it hard in pass rush situations, giving second and third efforts if the quarterback is on the move. Can get under the tackle's outside shoulder to get the corner. Splits double-teams to at least make the quarterback uncomfortable and get his hand up. Recognizes screens and cut blocks, and will stop his rush and knock down the pass if coming his way. Hesitates to blow up running backs in pass protection. Needs to use his hands better and incorporate counter moves to his outside rush. Does not make the play in the backfield as often as he should.
Run defense: Has the strength and speed combination to play either side of the line on run downs, and holds up well against larger tackles. Can split doubles to penetrate, and will hold the line against them if needed. Stays at home to prevent cutbacks and watch for misdirection. Hustles to be the second or third player on the stop, even if it's 15 yards downfield. Does not disengage to make the tackle often enough.
Explosion: Exceptional athlete for his size, with a good vertical and enough quickness off the snap to turn the corner against NFL right tackles. Some pop into his man's jersey when head-up. Drops into zone at times, looking comfortable for his size planting and driving to the flat in coverage. Not quick or agile enough to be a great rusher against NFL left tackles.
Strength: Generally plays with his pads low and with leverage. Able to push his man into the backfield on bull rushes. Stacks tackles and tight ends to watch the play, but doesn't get off blocks as quickly and consistently as scouts would like. Plays with a good anchor against the run. Gaining some weight could push him into a 3-4 end position at the next level.
Tackling: Solid wrap tackler with good length around the line of scrimmage. Not an explosive tackler, despite his size. Corrals elusive runners in space, forcing them inside and tracking them down with effort, but misses too many tackles behind the line of scrimmage because he comes in high instead of dropping his hips.
Intangibles: The only thing preventing Wilson from being a top 75 pick is his health. He has shown good heart and work ethic coming back from multiple season-ending injuries. Teammates and coaches respect him as a vocal leader and enjoy his positive spirit in the locker room.
NFL Comparison: Tim Crowder, Denver Broncos
INJURT REPORT 2008: Suffered season-ending torn ACL against Purdue.
2007: Suffered a season-ending broken right leg in the season opener against Youngstown State.
Determined defender who returned from two injury-shortened campaigns … 59 career tackles, 12 career TFL … 10 career starts.
3 tackles vs. Navy … spirited 4-yard interception in the win over Illinois … TFL at Indiana … 7-yard sack in the Wisconsin win … sack and 3 tackles in New Mexico State game … 5 tackles in win at Penn State … 2 tackles in win at Michigan … 2 tackles in Rose Bowl … Big Ten all-academic … June, 2009, graduate … fourth-year letterwinner.
Returned to starting lineup after missing the 2007 season with a broken leg … recorded 18 tackles in seven games … 18-yard sack of Youngstown … 24-yard interception against Ohio … six tackles against Troy … four tackles in the Minnesota game … pair of stops at Wisconsin … recovered a Purdue fumble but suffered a torn left ACL in that game … out for remainder of season and had surgery … Attack Force award: Ohio … third-year letterman.
Suffered broken right leg in opener with Youngstown State and missed remainder of regular season.
Played in 12 games and collected 17 tackles ... totaled five tackles-for-loss, three of which were quarterback sacks ... collected career-high five tackles in the win at Illinois, including three solos ... contributed on special teams with the punt return unit ... sacks came against Northern Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan ... had three stops against the Wolverines ... named the team's attack force player of the week vs. Illinois ... forced a fumble in the win over Minnesota.
Played in all but one game, Texas, as a rookie ... logged a career high 17 minutes against Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl ... had two tackles - one against Iowa and the other vs. Northwestern.
Ranked as Ohio's top defensive end by several recruiting services ... a three-year starter ... won first-team All-Ohio honors as a senior ... had 15 sacks as a junior and 10 as a senior ... also played tight end and caught seven passes for three touchdowns as a senior ... averaged 15 points per game in basketball as a junior ... an honor student.
Is the son of Eugene and Sarah Wilson ... his older brother attends Ohio State.