Saturday, August 14, 2010

Same guy, different voice: Kansas WR Wilson, no longer as quiet, welcomes role of vocal leader

Kansas receiver Johnathan Wilson runs through a drill with the rest of the receivers on the first day of fall practice, Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010 on the practice fields adjacent to Memorial Stadium.

Kansas receiver Johnathan Wilson runs through a drill with the rest of the receivers on the first day of fall practice, Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010 on the practice fields adjacent to Memorial Stadium.


A few weeks ago, Johnathan Wilson ran into former Kansas University wide receiver Kerry Meier in the training room on campus.

Healthy Laptad can help KU

Jake Laptad is coming back from an injury suffered against Nebraska last season. The defense would benefit from his good health as Laptad was the team leader in sacks and tackles for a loss.

Meier had a bit of advice for the KU senior wideout: “Be a leader.”

Wilson, who played the last three years behind NFL draftees Meier and Dezmon Briscoe, said following his old teammate’s advice has been an adjustment.

“I wasn’t a very vocal person during those days with them guys,” Wilson said. “That’s one thing I had to change. I had to open my mouth and get on guys and encourage guys to give it all their effort.”

Though it doesn’t come naturally, Wilson is doing his best to be heard.

Last week, during an individual drill at practice, some of the younger receivers were stopping after they made a catch instead of continuing to run up the field.

Wilson knew he needed to speak up.

“I didn’t get on them, I just told them, ‘Catch the ball and run upfield. Simulate a game situation,’” Wilson said. “Just little stuff like that. We need to practice hard so you play hard.”

Teammates have noticed Wilson’s personality change.

“Since he’s been here, he’s been kind of a quiet guy,” KU running back Angus Quigley said. “He’s kind of felt like he was off in the shadows behind Kerry and Briscoe and things like that. But, this past offseason, John’s done a lot of good things.

“He’s working hard. I see him encouraging. Those are things he hasn’t been doing.”

Wilson, who caught 35 passes for 449 yards in 2009, was listed at the top of KU’s spring depth chart. Junior Daymond Patterson, sophomore Bradley McDougald and freshman Christian Matthews also figure to be the favorites for playing time.

“I think all the guys are very talented,” Wilson said. “We can all be No. 1 receivers. I hopefully will be a No. 1 receiver and make some plays and hopefully get the chance to make some in a game.”

Wilson has the most experience of the Jayhawks’ receivers. His 81 career receptions are more than all the other KU receivers combined (52).

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound native of Houston also has impressed KU coach Turner Gill.

“John Wilson has done some great things,” Gill said during the team’s media days Monday. “He isn’t the fastest guy, but he has run some great routes. He has done an excellent job at catching the football.”

Wilson has set his own goals high, wanting to earn a spot on the Big 12’s all-conference team.

“That’s something I’ve always kind of wanted,” Wilson said. “I feel like I have the talent to do it, I’ve just got to put my mind to it.”

He’s not just talking about honorable mention, either.

“I’ll take second team, though. Nah, I’m going for the first team,” Wilson said with a smile. “You’ve got to shoot for the highest one.”

In the meantime, Wilson will do his best to follow Meier’s advice — and his example.

“Even if I’m not making plays, still be a leader,” Wilson said. “If they start running the ball more than passing, just be a leader. Just block, catch, do what you have to do.”


number1jayhawker 9 years ago

Can't go wrong if you follow Kerry's lead.

KU_Alumn_2000 9 years ago

Wilson has always had some hype...especially from his teammates. If I recall, for the last two seasons, his teammates voted him to be the pre-season breakout guy of the year.

I've never been very impressed with Wilson, and he's dropped some big passes in the past, especially up the middle of the field.

Would like to see Omigie and McDougald become our premier receivers this year. Think Omigie has some big time potential with his size and downfield threat.

Boy this offense could be really good if we can put the pieces together. Gill and Long are gonna have fun the next couple seasons coaching these guys.

Dirk Medema 9 years ago

I'm not sure how anyone could hope for others to become the premier receiver. JW is at the top of the depth chart. If he isn't the premier receiver, it means he has messed up in a game, and that's not good for KU.

I'm expecting Omigie, McD, Patterson, and maybe a few others to contribute, but definitely hoping JW is in the group as well - for the good of the team.

yovoy 9 years ago

McD is the freak of the group. He's a very talented young man, but wilson has caught my attention in the past couple of years. He's made some good catches in his time. You can't be a "bad" receiver if you've played with Reesing. With the last regime's willingness to throw the ball, everybody had a chance, and considering the reps he's probably had in practice AND in games, he's had plenty of chance to show his talent. The fact that he's the No. 1 under the new regime should speak for his ability to play.

I don't know, but I think we'll throw the ball more than most expect us to. At least I hope we do - when it's to our advantage.

John Randall 9 years ago

Throwing the ball more often than expected (less than half the plays) indicates desperation. It almost always means the scoreboard is leaning the wrong way. I have more of a preference for winning than watching aerial entertainment.

yovoy 9 years ago


Yeah, I'm guessing that we all prefer winning to aerial entertainment. I'd also say that we won a few games the last 3 or 4 years in "desperation" mode. Texas Tech must've been insanely desperate during the Leach era. Sheesh.

I don't care how we get it done as long as we get it done. Sorry to the "purists" (I guess that's what they want to call themselves), 3 yards and a cloud of dust is gone with the crewcut, but if it gets us some wins, I'll take it.

Let's wait to see how it goes.

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