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UGA’s Wilson is Making the Most of his Opportunities

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Whichever team drafts Isaiah Wilson will get a player who looks forward to coming to work and takes pride in doing his job.

I like beating people up in the run game. And my favorite thing about football is that you can make another man quit.
~Isaiah Wilson

Georgia offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson is one of the most physically imposing linemen in recent history at 6'6'', 350 pounds. Fresh off a trip to the NFL Combine and mere weeks ahead of the NFL Draft, his profile is so much more. While Wilson's size and strength obviously stand out, his perspective, focused on this opportunity for years, is equally as powerful. A Brooklyn-native, Wilson's trek to the next level took him through college football's Offensive Line U. What awaits is what Wilson has been working for.

In Athens, Wilson both learned under and worked alongside some of the best in the game in validating himself himself as one of the same. Wilson, at Georgia, helped lead two teams that advanced to two SEC Championship Games and two Sugar Bowls, going a combined 8-0 against rivals Auburn, Florida, Georgia Tech and Tennessee, among other distinctions. His offensive lines led the league in rushing offense in 2018 and ranked second in the conference in sacks allowed in 2019. As a redshirt junior, Wilson was named second-team All-SEC. 

Calling his former position coach and now-Arkansas head man Sam Pittman "the best offensive line coach in college football", Wilson is direct and purposeful in citing those around him at Georgia for helping him reach his full potential. Wilson signed with the Bulldogs as a heralded five-star recruit; he came to campus and got even better. The standard of physicality at Georgia resonated with Wilson. Competing with the likes of Andrew Thomas, Solomon Kindley and Isaiah Wynn only helped Wilson grow and improve. 

"It is a lot of fun playing with guys like that because everyday you come into work and everyone just wants to keep getting better. There is no complacency, no let-up or any faltering of the effort we put in everyday. And when you have a line as talented as we have had for the past few years here, everyone weaves in their own way," Wilson recalled. "It was an honor playing with guys like that. I wish them nothing but the best. Hopefully on Sundays we can be doing a bunch of jersey swaps."

With red clay still on his cleats, Wilson is one of the offensive linemen on the big stage ahead of April's NFL Draft. He, from being part of a comprehensive unit to becoming more of an individual brand, continues to be on the fast-track to stardom. A lot of scouts continue to talk about Wilson's ability, and for good measure, but his attitude is another important asset. Left or right tackle, Wilson, at his core, is a football player. His mindset is what matters; Wilson doesn't just play offensive line, he enjoys it.

Whichever team drafts Wilson will get a player who looks forward to coming to work and takes pride in doing his job.

"I would say I'm definitely physical. I'm physical, I'm strong. I like moving people off the ball," Wilson explained. "I like beating people up in the run game. And my favorite thing about football is that you can make another man quit. I can do everything in my power to watch you quit on the field in front of everyone else on this field and that's one of the things I cherish about this game."

Though less about the mission and more about the measurables, the NFL Combine, for Wilson, was a special experience. A life-long football fan, his time in Indianapolis was a spotlight that brought his career full-circle. A towering shadow followed Wilson through all of his interviews and events, but so did a smile; Wilson had dreamed of such an opportunity for years and was one of the select few in attendance making the most of it.

Before ever saying a word or going through a single drill, Wilson, one of the biggest players in attendance, made an impression. With a notable blend of talent and tenacity, his stock appears to be on the rise. The scene was a surreal one as Wilson watched the process ramp up in a setting he had long before seen.  
 
"Since I was a kid, I definitely grew up watching the combine every time it came on. In high school I was watching it. In college I was watching my teammates do it. It was just a fun experience for me. It was a hell of a time, I really enjoyed being there," Wilson shared. "When you're living your dreams or you can see your dreams kind of in front of your face, it makes everything that much better and it amplifies everything by ten. I really tried to soak everything in and really enjoy the moment."  

The journey is one Wilson values and one that is, in some ways, just getting started.

Not long ago, he became a popular video clip for his highlights as, fascinatingly enough, a playmaking running back at Poly Prep Country Day School. Though a five-star prospect along the offensive line, Wilson, remarkably athletic, lobbied for chances as a ball-carrier; he, three times, went to the endzone when his number was called and also promptly went viral. Correspondingly, Wilson was well-known before ever signing with Georgia or declaring himself eligible for the NFL Draft.     

"I told my coach I really wanted to run the football. I told him I would score as soon as I got the opportunity," Wilson laughed. "That film was actually my homecoming. He handed me the ball on three occasions and I scored on all three. I was excited, it was a lot of fun running out there and seeing those little guys try and tackle me. I'd just scoot out of the way. I'd get to score, I'd get to look at the crowd and do my little thing as a lineman, that was definitely dope."

As for future roles in an ever-innovative NFL?

"I'll do whatever it takes to win, but, for sure...give me the ball on the three, I like my chances," Wilson smiled.

Aggressive and appreciative, Wilson has a comprehensive feel for all that he has done and is doing. He is grateful for his time at Georgia, thankful for his chance to play at football's highest level and confident in his ability to make the most of all that awaits. Wilson, as dominant as he has been, is continuing to learn and improve at his craft. He is focused and hungry, motivated and inspired. As professional teams project his potential, the best may still be yet to come.  

As life changes, Wilson is taking it all in stride; and pundits will tell you, fluid movements, for a man of his stature, are some of Wilson's best traits.

"First of all, all glory to God for putting me in this position and I don't want to take anything for granted. So I'll be extremely grateful for whoever calls my name, God-willing that's what takes place. I've been dreaming about it for as long as I can remember. I remember being in kindergarten and, for career day, I would wear my football uniform to class and write a full blown essay on why I wanted to be a football player and the requirements of being a football player." Wilson reflected. "I'm just going to be speechless when it happens."

Wilson has long been a football player. When scouting him as a prospect, it's important to remember that the how and the why are a leading part of the who.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports