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Tuesday, March 5, 2013
OLB Wilson has cold day, hot future

By Radi Nabulsi

ATLANTA -- With a wind-chill factor in the low 20s and occasional snow flurries blowing through the air, outside linebacker Petera Wilson (Memphis, Tenn./White Station) had a hard time staying warm Saturday. The cold kept his legs tight and he was not happy with his 40-yard dash or agility shuttle times. After having driven from Memphis, Tenn., to Atlanta to compete in the Nike SPARQ Combine, the talented junior left Lakewood Stadium cold and disappointed.

“The pure coldness outside was killer today,” Wilson said. “I mean 5.0 [seconds] flat in the 40 and 4.5 in the cone drill – it was terrible. I’m hoping to get a better shot out in Memphis where it’s going to be warm. I can spread my legs then and show the true lightning speed and it is going to be amazing.”

The fact that Wilson competed at all is not surprising to his coach Devin Rutherford. Wilson had nothing to prove on Saturday. He is already one of the most coveted outside linebackers in the nation. He plans to go to the Nike NFTC in his hometown of Memphis in April. So why go all the way to Atlanta?

“He is oblivious to how good he is,” Rutherford said. “He is just a competitor. He wanted to go there and compete against those other guys. He still gets in awe of the competition and they say, ‘What do you mean you are in awe of us? We are in awe of you.’ He can’t believe it when he goes to combines and guys say, ‘I looked at your highlight film.’ It is the funniest thing.”

Rutherford jokes that Wilson is in denial about his talent, but the coach knew Wilson was special early. In fact, Wilson started for the varsity squad as a freshman.

“As a freshman we could not block him,” Rutherford said. “He didn’t last a week on the scout team. There are probably quite a few seniors that hate that he ever came out there. Can you imaging being a senior and you can’t block a scout-team freshman?”

Stories like that spread quickly in the college recruiting world.

Wilson might have been freezing during the camp but his recruitment is red-hot. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound defender has double-digit offers from the likes of Alabama, Florida, LSU and USC, to name a few. Wilson’s phone is burning up as more top programs are calling every week with offers.

“The latest would be Ohio State, FSU and Georgia,” Wilson said. “The Georgia Bulldogs -- what else is there to know? They finished No. 3 in the nation this year. Great program, great athletes they have down there. Everything is looking good for them.”

Columbus, Ohio, is about nine hours away from his house but Wilson and his family talk about Ohio State with some frequency since his offer came through.

“What I like about The Ohio State is Urban Meyer’s Ohio Buckeyes swagger,” Wilson said. “My dad tells me a lot about them. Their program is going to do good.”

Tallahassee, Fla., is roughly the same distance away as Columbus, so Florida State will get a long look as well.

“The Seminoles are No. 2 in the NCAA as far as defense goes,” Wilson said. “There is one thing you need to know: defense is key to me. Discipline -- they got it.”

Wilson said he plans to visit a several schools unofficially as the weather heats up.

“I plan to take my officials to go see the schools like Ohio State, FSU, USC and all these schools out here,” Wilson said “I plan to visit around the SEC and everywhere to get a good look at who all is interested in me, go up north and see who all is interested in me.”

Wilson doesn’t have a list of favorites yet, nor does he have a timetable for when he plans to narrow his list, but he has a couple programs that he wants to explore.

“Someone I would like learn more about Ohio State and FSU,” Wilson said. “Someone who is after me like a dog -- and I love it -- is Alabama and LSU.”