Instant analysis - Haltom defensive end Reggie Wilson had already gotten to sit down with Mack Brown in his office and officially receive his offer at Texas' first Junior Day. On his third visit to the Austin campus, the first with his parents, Reggie Wilson didn't even have a chance to meet with the absent Coach February, but a discussion with Will Muschamp and Mike Tolleson was enough to convince the Ivory Coast native and his parents that leaving the Forth Worth area to come to Austin was the right decision.
The journey from the Ivory Coast to New York to Forth Worth and, eventually, to Austin, has been a road traveled by few young men ($) the age of Reggie Wilson. In fact, his parents emigrated to the Ivory Coast from civil war-ravaged Liberia before Wilson's birth, then leaving for the United States when Wilson was seven to send money back in an effort to provide for their seven children and others who had no homes -- orphaned refugees. For three years, Wilson, one of the oldest, helped care for his adopted and blood siblings with money sent back by his parents, before coming to New York briefly and then to Fort Worth.
It was at that point, 11 years old and fresh from Africa, that Wilson signed up for football, expecting to play his first love, the sport Americans call soccer. Disoriented and unaware of what he had gotten himself into, Wilson had to receive help from his classmates get him his foreign pads for the first time. After ending up running the football on his first play, Wilson took a hard hit and decided it was a sport he could grow to love, a love for the game that culminated in his commitment to Texas.
His experience has given Wilson more than simply an appreciation for his opportunity -- it's also given him to desire to help out his native country, as Wilson wants to major in business to eventually earn money to send back home to the Ivory Coast. If Wilson continues to refine his raw talent, something tells me that first check that gets sent back to Africa will come from an NFL team.
In terms of Wilson's impact on recruiting, his commitment means one less spot available to the other ten players currently with an offer (Corey Nelson, Jordan Hicks, Darius White, Trovon Reed, DeMarco Cobbs, Torrea Peterson, Lache Seastrunk, Jackson Jeffcoat, and Jake Matthews). Of that group, Peterson is the most likely to be told by the coaching staff that he needs to commit soon or lose his spot. Frankly, he should be told now there isn't a spot for him because he is the least talented of the group and the class already has three other defensive tackles (Ashton Dorsey, De'Aires Cotton, and Taylor Bible).
Wilson's commitment means the Longhorns have the numbers at defensive end that they wanted (at least two) and removes the necessity of getting at least one of Wilson and Jeffcoat. In other words, Texas can be happy with their commitments at defensive end currently, making Jeffcoat a player who would simply push the recruiting class as a whole into even more rarified air.
Instant scouting report - Wilson possesses a maturity level and perspective on the world molded by his experiences extremely unique for his age. Rather than viewing football and his natural ability for the game as his birth right, Wilson plays the game with an intensity revealing his understanding of just how lucky he is be talented at a game that can give him the opportunity to make a difference in life. As a result, Wilson uses his constant motor to enhance his impressive athleticism, making him a threat crashing down on the backside of running plays away from him, much like Alex Okafor.
It's easy to compare Wilson to 2010 classmate Jackson Jeffcoat, since both are elite defensive ends from the Metroplex with outstanding offers from Texas and top five players in the state, they are quite different for two elite players at the same position. While Jeffcoat would project at Texas in the Buck position, in addition to playing in a more traditional three-point stance, Wilson projects as a power end who could also spin down to the defensive tackle position in pass-rushing situations -- think Lamarr Houston as a sophomore.
That's not to say that Wilson is a candidate to permanently spin down to defensive tackle, like Tevin Mims, though Wilson does possess a similar skill set in terms of explosiveness (he runs between a 4.7 and 4.8) and change-of-direction abilities, which are remarkable for a defensive end, but not quite elite.
It's the raw potential of Wilson that has Inside Texas currently ranking him at the top of their rankings, ahead of talents like Jeffcoat, Darius White, and Lache Seastrunk. Wilson also differs greatly from the refined Jeffcoat in terms of technique -- Wilson doesn't appear to have any developed pass-rushing moves, though he can be violent enough with his hands to shed blockers.
Wilson also severely lacks in his tackling form. A player with the combination of Wilson's size and strength should put more big hits on opposing players. Instead, Wilson displays poor tackling form and ends relying on the strength in his hands and forearms, which is ample, to grab and throw down opposing players. In his highlight films, Wilson makes no more than a couple form tackles. There's a viciousness hitting defenders yet to be unleashed with Wilson.
The rawness in Wilson's game will likely limit his early effectiveness unless his makes big breakthroughs in technique during his senior season. Of course, the talented defensive ends in the class in front of Wilson, particularly Tevin Mims, factor into that equation.
Besides technique, Wilson also lags behind Jeffcoat in his explosiveness. Wilson is a more compact and better built-player at this point than Jeffcoat and projects at a different position on the defensive line, alleviating any concerns that revelation might create. The concern is the difference in explosiveness between Wilson's sophomore and junior film. As a junior wearing #9, Wilson flew around the field, with an explosiveness first step that rivaled Jeffcoat or Alex Okafor. However, as a junior wearing #72, Wilson looks slower and lacks a half step on his previous highlights, while also appearing his nimble in his lateral movement and ability to change direction.
The most likely reason for Wilson's limited junior explosiveness is the number of snaps he took on the offensive side of the ball. A relentless blocker in the mold of Thomas Ashcraft and Barrett Matthews, Wilson played offensive tackle for Haltom as a junior, likely expending a great deal of his energy on that side of the ball.
Wasting movement in his jump off the ball is one of the reasons Wilson struggles to consistently explode off the ball to the best of his abilities. Given his deep background in football and his work with his father, Jeffcoat may appear faster more consistently merely because he's using better technique to get his jump at the snap. When Wilson refines his jump off the ball, he may end up being nearly as fast as the extremely quick Jeffcoat.
In terms of his physical development, it's hard to tell how much room Wilson has on his frame to grow at this point. At 240 pounds as a junior, there's no reason that Wilson couldn't step onto the field during fall practice in 2010 and weigh 260 pounds, especially after a semester and summer in the weight program with Mad Dog (Wilson will enroll early at Texas). Physical development not being the biggest issue, Wilson should focus more on maximizing his athleticism, both in his lateral movement and his explosive off the ball than simply developing his pure size and weight.