John Tyler’s Jeremy Wilson Defies Size Limitations + Has Lions On Doorstep Of State Final
TYLER -- More than 40 years ago, a young man by the name of Earl Campbell was beginning to carve out his legacy at John Tyler High School.
The "Tyler Rose," as he became known through the years, led the Lions to the 1973 Class 4A state championship by overpowering defenders on his way to a school-record 2,036 rushing yards -- a mark that stills stands.
With potentially two more games remaining in John Tyler's season, Campbell's single-season rushing record is being challenged by the most unlikely of running backs.
Lions senior Jeremy Wilson enters Saturday afternoon's Class 5A Division I state semifinal against defending champion Aledo 284 yards short of the record books. But unlike Campbell, who made a Hall of Fame career out of running through defenses, Wilson stands 5-6 and weights 160 pounds.
"One of his legs was two of my legs, and to do what he did on my legs on the field," Wilson pondered in amazement. "He is the 'Tyler Rose.' And just to even be mentioned close to his name, it's a blessing. I'm right behind him, nobody (else) is in front of me. A lot of people can't do what he did."
Wilson may not go on to the University of Texas, win a Heisman Trophy, or star in the NFL like Campbell. In fact, most college recruiters are scared off by the size of players like Wilson, who as of now, is without a Division I offer -- FBS or FCS.
For now, Wilson holds onto two potential scholarship opportunities -- Division II Southern Arkansas and MacPherson College, a NAIA program in Kansas.
"He's not letting the recruiting game get to him," said John Tyler coach Ricklan Holmes. "He knows that he's going to end up at a university somewhere, and he's going to get his education paid for; he'll be playing college football."
And if Wilson continues to put up numbers similar to last week, bigger schools will have no choice but to pay attention.
Wilson carried the ball a season-high 29 times for a career-best 231 yards and three touchdowns in John Tyler's quarterfinal win over McKinney North. He also added 48 receiving yards on three catches.
"With me going into the fifth round, and hopefully, a state championship, it shrinks down," Wilson said. "The view is really on me and my team. I think just going this far really helps in the evaluating process to see what I'm doing against teams in the fifth and sixth round. I mean, 280 yards in the fourth round of the playoffs says a little something."
Wilson said that he's received interest from several FBS programs this season, including TCU, Missouri, New Mexico, UTSA and Texas Tech.
For the season, Wilson has rushed for 1,752 yards and 26 touchdowns on 219 carries. In John Tyler's four playoff wins, he's averaging 168 yards and has at least 20 rushing attempts in three of the games.
Wilson's biggest asset on the field is his speed. During the second annual ETSN.fm + APEC Football Recruiting Combine in June, Wilson registered a laser-timed 4.41 time in the 40-yard dash -- the fastest of all 115 participants.
But more than that, was his remarkable strength-testing numbers for a player of his size. He put up 10 reps on the bench press at 205 pounds, and had the fifth-best Keiser squat, which measures a player's overall lower-body explosion more accurately than a traditional squat lift, out of the 26 running backs in attendance.
"It helps with the durability, being able to take the pounding," Holmes said of Wilson's compact strength. "Jeremy carried the ball 29 times last week, and a lot of people questioned if he could do it. We all knew he could do it because we know his strength and we know that he knows his body has to be able to take a pounding, and that comes with how hard he worked during the offseason."
There are still two months before National Signing Day, and while coaches typically pitch their programs to prospective recruits, Wilson's small size turns the tables. He must sell himself to colleges.
Wilson's selling points are sound.
"I would shake their hand, look them in the eye and say 'don't look at my size. Look at what I've done, look at the stats, look at the things that I can control, not the the things that I can't,'" he said. "I can't control my size, but I can control what I do on the field, in the weight room and in the classroom."