Wilson's Hard Work Pays Off

Oct. 22, 2010

Kansas senior Johnathan Wilson may not be the biggest wide receiver in the Big 12, or the fastest. But that hasn’t stopped him from being one of the Jayhawks’ most successful players at the position.

In his career, Wilson has helped the Jayhawks win a pair of bowl games, including the 2008 Insight Bowl where he caught a second quarter touchdown pass to help the Jayhawks take control of the game. He has been extremely productive in his four years in the Crimson and Blue, posting 108 catches – which ranks ninth in school history, and 1,344 yards.

One of the main characteristics that sets Wilson apart from most wide receivers is his dedication to detail and being as studious and prepared as possible. This kind of attitude fosters hard work and discipline. To some players, the experience of college football is a joy ride, but to Wilson it is much more than that.

He can be found on the practice fields working on his techniques well after his teammates have left for the day. He also logs long periods of time in the film room, studying his opponents’ strengths and weaknesses, which he can take advantage of on Saturdays.

“This (sport) is basically like a job to me,” said Wilson, who is second on the team with 27 catches for 270 yards through six games in 2010. “Some people think it is all just fun and games but it is actually a job. I will take hard work and discipline away from this experience.”

Wilson learned this hard-nosed mentality while coming through the ranks, playing behind current NFL receivers Marcus Henry, Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe. While competing with that kind of talent for playing time could have been discouraging for some, the Houston, Texas native viewed it as a positive.

“I learned a lot of stuff from those guys,” said Wilson. “I learned (how to) run routes (better). (But) mostly just understanding the detail and understanding what is out there I think that is what has helped out a lot. Before the play, I take a little peek at what is going on right in front of me, but before I would just run out there and not pay attention and try to get open.”

While the team’s 2-4 start is not exactly what Wilson envisioned for his senior season, his solution should come as no surprise. He believes the team can get back on track if it continues to work hard and can play smarter.

“We just need to focus more,” said Wilson. “We definitely need to be a little more consistent on offense. We have the talent to be really good, but we need to be more focused and patient. We need to be more of a group.”

With this being Wilson’s final season with the Jayhawks, the three-year letterwinner is trying to milk every last opportunity every time he steps on the field. This week’s game against Texas A&M should have Wilson playing with a little more hunger, as a win over the Aggies could help the young Jayhawks turn their season around. There is also added incentive for Wilson, who was not offered a scholarship from A&M, despite playing his prep football in the Aggies’ backyard at Klein Forest High School in Houston.

“It’s always fun to play against Texas schools,” said Wilson, who had one of his best days in 2008, when he hauled in eight passes for 93 yards against Texas.

“You always know a lot of people on the other sideline who you’ve played with or against. You always like to beat those guys.”

Although the season is still unpredictable and Wilson is unsure about what the future holds, there is still one thing for certain. Wilson and the rest of the Jayhawks will strive to keep wearing Crimson and Blue into the bowl season.

Andy Powell is a junior from St. Louis, Mo.

He is majoring in journalism.