Zach Wilson Is Chasing His Passions While Leading BYU Football To Glory

Nov 16, 2020, 3:00 AM | Updated: 10:44 am
Zach Wilson - BYU Football...
BYU QB Zach Wilson is bringing passion to his play and it's leading the Cougars to heights they haven't experienced in decades. (BYU Photo/Jaren WIlkey)
(BYU Photo/Jaren WIlkey)

PROVO, Utah – BYU star Zach Wilson proves the adage, “follow your passion and the money will come” to be true. Whether it’s the 2021 NFL Draft or a year later in 2022, Wilson will eventually hear his name called by an NFL team someday.

Wilson isn’t in the spotlight right now solely because of his cannon of an arm that can make all the “NFL throws.” Or his dual-threat playmaking ability through both the air and on the ground. The passion for the game of football might be Wilson’s best attribute.

An attribute that will likely have more NFL fan bases clamoring for him to be selected by their favorite team.

Zach Wilson has a passion for the game of football

“I catch myself watching football, studying football 24/7. We’re here lifting all the time, and then, I go home, and every night before bed, I’m watching some in-depth analysis of a random quarterback of the day, whether it’s Matt Stafford or Josh Allen, I love to see their transition from high school to college to the NFL. Really just anything I can get my hands on that I feel like is gonna help me be a better player,” Zach Wilson said in an interview with KSL Sports.

“It’s not necessarily something I look for either. It naturally comes. I feel like I just love the game so much. I get home, and it just happens. I just want to watch football, and I want to learn as much as I can. I really take a lot of pride in how much I study the game.”

That passion from Wilson and drive to succeed has led many of his critics and doubters to be a lot quieter this season. Coming into the year, anonymous coaches said Wilson “might not be BYU’s best quarterback.” Those prognostications look to be a big swing and a miss right now as Wilson has led BYU to its best start since 2001.

Heisman conversation is heating up

Wilson, a Draper native, who chose BYU over Boise State, Iowa, and Cal, in large part because of his relationship with Kalani Sitake, has returned BYU to its roots of elite quarterback play. While also catapulting himself into the Heisman Trophy conversation as one of the country’s top players.

“It’s cool to have people talking about [the Heisman campaign] and posting it out there. I really don’t have a preference [on the hashtag], but I think it’s great what they’re doing,” said Wilson. “I think it’s cool that people are taking notice of what BYU is doing this year. It’s been exciting so far.”

The road from under-the-radar recruit to Heisman candidate has had a lot of twists and turns. Injuries, tough losses, inconsistency all played a role in the peaks and valleys through the first two years at BYU. Now it’s all coming together, and Wilson has a chance to lead BYU to its first New Year’s Six bowl game in program history and become the first BYU player since Ty Detmer in 1991 to be a finalist for the Heisman.

“We want Zach to win the Heisman. We think he should, and we believe he’s the best quarterback in the nation,” said BYU tight end Isaac Rex. He should be a first-round pick obviously, and whenever he decides to declare, he’s the real deal.”

Zach Wilson on the love from NFL Mock Drafts

NFL Mock Drafts view Wilson as the real deal, as well. Coming into the season, no one was talking about Wilson as a first-round draft pick. Now eight games into a season where Wilson has been nearly perfect throughout, some mocks have Wilson going as high as the top five picks.

“It’s awesome, it’s a blessing, and it keeps me grateful for everything I have in my life,” said Wilson on the attention he’s receiving for the NFL. “It teaches me how to be humble, honestly. I feel like I get excited at the situation, I get excited at what’s going on. Then it really gives me the ability to reflect and say, ‘Okay, well what got me here? Why am I to this point? What can I do better? How can I give back to other people, you know?’ I’ve been given a lot of opportunities in my life, and I just feel like it’s making me a better person and a better player. It’s nice to be getting noticed and stuff, but it’s really gonna keep making me try and work harder to get to the next step.”

Family helped shape Wilson’s passion for football

The well-documented 10-hour weekend drives from Provo to San Diego to work out with John Beck, and 3DQB has become somewhat of a punchline at this point with how often TV commentators bring the story up. But to its core, it highlights the passion that has launched Wilson and BYU into the spotlight. A passion that he discovered as a young kid growing up from inside his family home.

“My dad (Mike Wilson), for sure,” Wilson when asked where he gets his passion for football.

“I wouldn’t even say it was football. I feel like my dad just got me into sports. He always wanted me to be a basketball player, and he always dogged on football a little bit because of how bad his knees were playing defensive line in college. But he got me into football, basketball, and soccer. My whole life was just full of sports all the time. I was running track in high school, little league baseball, and all that kind of stuff. It was just a lifestyle.”

The passion and commitment to a lifestyle have resonated in the BYU program, and they are following their confident leader; however, long, this magical undefeated ride will take them. The same goes for Wilson, who wants football to be a significant part of his life for years to come.

“I really just think the day that this ends is the day I’m going to feel like I’m almost lost. I just don’t know what I’m going to do with myself when football ends. I’ve been doing this my whole life. It’s all I’ve known, ever since I could remember, football has been there. So hopefully, that day doesn’t have to end anytime soon.”

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m., KSL Newsradio). Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper and the KSL Sports app.

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