By Lorenzo Bryant
KINGSTON, R.I. - Last year, Tez Wilson missed the entire 2018 football season with a broken foot. It was an injury he suffered not just once, but twice within three months. Wilson's absence was felt greatly in some games, but the pain he endured both emotionally and physically may have actually been a blessing in disguise.
Getting the opportunity to sit down and converse with Tez, we discussed his growth during this tough period. He said that he became a better student of the game when he wasn't able to physically play it. He took the time to study and analyze plays, formations, and the entire offense as a whole.
"I was forced to elevate my game in a way I'm not typically used to doing," Wilson said. "We usually are taught to go out and perfect what is instilled in us through repetition. Instead, I had to break it down and understand, 'Why do I have this assignment? Why must I use this technique? What do the other 10 guys around me have as well?' I saw the game through a coach's point of view, no longer as just a player. That helped me communicate with my teammates and coaching staff much better."
Not only did he develop a stronger football IQ, but Wilson acquired better leadership skills as well.
"Not being able to play doesn't stop your responsibility on the team to contribute or lead, especially as a senior," Wilson said. "I had to step out of my comfort zone and be more vocal and help those under me reach their full potential. Guys like James Makszin, Andre Bibeault. and Keith Wells are all talented but they were younger or new to the team last season. It felt like my duty, my obligation, to help them understand the defense."
Wilson added that assisting the D-line helped his recovery speed up as well. Being around the team despite not being able to play did indeed hurt, but interestingly enough, he felt it contributed to easing the pain and allowed him to feel like he was never really gone. On the topic of recovery, when asked what helped him power through the lowest point of his college career, he owed the majority of credit to his family.
"My family brought my faith and spirits up when I didn't even realize they were down," Wilson said. "My mother never left my side, she prayed for me and with me - always telling me that everything will be all right. My brother, who had his fair share of injuries at Old Dominion, has traveled this road before. I owe a lot of credit to him for sure. He made sure I took the correct steps to come back ahead of schedule and even stronger. It tested me time and time again. There were times I where I wanted to give up, but I coped through these hard times by reading the Bible more frequently in my free time. It changed my outlook on the whole situation. Instead of viewing it as negative and depressing, it became a blessing."
This upcoming season is a monumental one for Wilson. Not just for himself, but for the team. He adds a presence that was missing last year on the defensive side of the ball. With missing an entire season, Wilson feels that there is reparation that is owed and he is out to take what he believes is his.
"I've been working relentlessly; film, critiquing my technique, and two workouts every day are some things that I did not use to do in my previous years here," Wilson said. "I know the standard that we set without me last year. Therefore it's only right we not only uphold them, but I help raise the bar when I return."
Going into his fifth year, Tez Wilson understands that leadership is his main objective, besides just making plays. Guiding younger players, motivating players in his position group, and pushing the offense to be the best it can be are the main priorities heading into his final camp. When asked what should we expect from Wilson and the Rams as a whole, his answer was simple.
"Out of the Rhode Island Rams you can expect a championship caliber team and victory. And as far as me? Everything. Relentless effort and whatever it takes."
As part of his Inside Look series, Zoe Bryant, Jr. will provide feature stories on several members of the football team throughout training camp and the 2019 season through his internship with the Media Relations office.