Big things were expected from graduate transfer Jordan Wilson last season in Mike Norvell’s tight end friendly offense. After appearing in 34 games and making seven starts for UCLA over three seasons he was expected to come in and compete for a starting job in what was supposed to be his only season in Tallahassee. But after an injury in preseason practice last August, which forced him to miss the entire 2020 season and because the NCAA gave all student-athletes and additional year of eligibility, Wilson is back and figures to play a significant role in Norvell’s offense this fall.
A week and a half ago Wilson took the field with his teammates for the first time since his surgery to take part in individual drills, something he has been patiently looking forward to for eight long months.
“It’s been a blessing to be back at practice,” said Wilson after Tuesday’s practice. “I have really taken a different perspective. These last seven or eight months, I really got to sit back and watch our team and how they come to work every day. I gained a different perspective on how the coaches get to do the right things, and these last seven or eight months have been a blessing in disguise for me. It is also to be back out there feeling good, and I’m excited.”
He isn’t the only person in Tallahassee excited to see him back on the grass. His head coach is too. Wilson gives Norvell another experienced pass catcher at tight end to complement returning starter Cam McDonald (Wilson caught 25 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns as a Bruin). At 6-foot-4 and 262 pounds he also has the size and strength to be used as a blunt-force instrument as a blocker in the running game. Both qualities should not only impact his position group but the entire offense.
“Jordan Wilson is a young man that I’m excited about the progress that he’s making just in his rehabilitation and all aspects of what he’s doing, to see him out there running around, catching balls, running routes, we’ve limited him a little bit from the contact aspect of it but really excited about what he’s going to bring,” said Norvell after seeing the tight end in action over the last two weeks.
Wilson has been able to witness the development of the program under Norvell and individually from his teammates from afar since last August. His view from the sidelines while he has been rehabbing his knee has him looking forward to the 2021 season.
“I’m very excited for this upcoming fall just because I watched our team just gel together and fully buy into what Coach Norvell has in store for us,” said Wilson. “Just watching the guys work through Tour of Duty and making the emphasis of finishing through the line and do things the right way, guys are starting to dial into the details, and that’s what is going to separate us in the fall. So I’m really excited to see us work this season.”
And while Wilson knows not being able to fully participate in spring drills isn’t ideal he does believe that having four years of college football playing experience under his belt works to his advantage.
“Reps are a huge deal in terms of doing the right motions and just repetition,” said Wilson. “But I don’t think it is going to hinder me at all just because of the experience I’ve had. I’ve had many reps over my college experience. It has been more of a mental challenge just to make sure I’m locked into every play and that I know what to do.”