PROVO, Utah – Zach Wilson arrived at BYU three years ago, and in that short time with the Cougars, he left an impact that few in program history can replicate.
I had the chance to cover Zach Wilson’s entire BYU career from start to finish. As someone who follows recruiting closely, I also knew about Wilson when he was a prep standout at Corner Canyon High School. Now that Wilson is getting ready to begin his professional career, I wanted to take the time to look back on Wilson’s career from a full-time media member’s perspective.
Zach Wilson as a recruit
Wilson was once the MVP of the BYU Football Camp, yet surprisingly was not getting any recruiting attention from BYU. I was working at another radio station at the time. I thought to myself, why isn’t BYU recruiting this guy?
I remember thinking Wilson had the ability to compete right away for playing time as a true freshman watching how he played. He committed to BYU over offers Cal, Boise State, Oregon State, Iowa, and others. Seeing him commit to BYU in front of his father’s Utah apparel in the basement of his home was a moment Cougar fans probably won’t forget. As it signaled, a rare legacy recruit for the Utes is going to BYU.
Potential was on display in Freshman season
Zach Wilson arrived at BYU during the winter semester in 2018. He joined a QB room that had nine quarterbacks. I remember watching Wilson in his first spring practice and coming away from that session thinking, Wilson was the best passing QB I’ve seen at BYU in practice since John Beck. And before that, Ben Olsen.
For Cougar fans, they were probably hoping Beck was going to be the outcome. Not Ben Olsen. But the foundation of skills was already there in Wilson, and it was far greater than the three-star rating he received during his recruitment.
Wilson stepped into a BYU program that had many QBs, but there were a lot of injuries in the QB room. Most notably to Tanner Mangum, who was recovering from an Achilles injury. Mangum wasn’t expected to put in any work during spring ball, but he did participate in some passing drills after a week of Wilson shining in his first handful of practices at BYU.
I drew a comparison to Baker Mayfield after seeing Wilson operate in the spring game leading many to quote tweet me, scoffing at the statement. But you could see the talent right away.