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365 days of Terry Wilson, the Comeback Quarterback

It’s been a helluva year for Terry Wilson.

This time last year, Kentucky’s team, coaching staff and dedicated fanbase were all gearing up for the Wildcats’ second football game of the season. The Cats had already rolled passed Toledo, winning by a final score of 38-24. Wilson completed 19-26 throws for a total of 246 yards (9.5 yards per throw) and two touchdowns. Still, it was just one game, and there was a lot that remained to be seen from Kentucky’s entire team, including its quarterback.

But life had other plans. After three quarters of play against Eastern Michigan, Wilson was pulled down by an illegal horse collar tackle. After the play ended, there he was, laying on the field, clutching his left knee. Eventually, play resumed and the Cats went on to win 38-17. But all anyone was thinking about was Terry Wilson and that image of him being carted off the field by the team’s trainers.

365 days ago, Terry Wilson was brought down by Eastern Michigan, tearing his patellar tendon in the process. 364 days ago, the recovery process began.

Well, in theory that is. Wilson actually tweeted he had his “new knee” on Sept. 19, 2019.

From there, it was a grind.

Thanks to the joys of social media, the fanbase and the media alike were privy to the process. We noticed when he started lifting weights again; we saw the videos of him tossing a football around inside the Joe Craft Football Training Facility. Eventually, we saw Wilson running on a zero-gravity treadmill, a device that alleviates some of the pressure off his knee while he rebuilds strength by sprinting.

It was amazing to watch.

Of course, there’s only so much to be learned from social media. While the BBN was able to cheer him on from the comments section for each of these milestones, there were surely days where things weren’t so picture perfect.

Nevertheless, he did it and by this spring, there were videos of Wilson participating in drills alongside his teammates in practice.

Then, coronavirus. The world changed — certainly for the past six months, perhaps for much, much longer — when coronavirus came into each of our lives. The spring season, including the spring game and all practices and scrimmages, was canceled. Wilson had just publicly announced his girlfriend was expecting their first child, and the due date was officially set for August 30, just days before the (original) start of UK’s football season.

Somewhere in the middle of all of that, Wilson also graduated from college (albeit virtually, of course). UK has not announced plans to honor the 2020 graduates with any kind of official ceremony. Diplomas were simply mailed to the recent grads over the summer.

In the weeks and months that followed, Wilson watched as his fall season, the “comeback season” he’d spent the better part of a year rehabbing and preparing for, was clouded with uncertainty. Other Power 5 conferences, including the Big Ten and the PAC-12, began to pull the plug on fall football.

Still, the SEC pushed on, and so too did Terry Wilson.

At one point, Wilson tweeted he had “a lot to think about,” which quickly led to assumptions he was considering opting-out of the 2020-21 season due to COVID-19 concerns. It was a heartbreaking thought for the BBN, especially those who had closely followed his year-long recovery process, but who could blame him for at least thinking about all of his options? With his first child on the way – a baby girl, to be born in August – who were we to weigh in on his decision regarding exposure to the virus on a college campus, much less the added exposure that comes along with playing a high-contact sport.

Fear not, BBN. This uncertainty was short-lived, if it was every really there at all. Wilson left little to be assumed when he tweeted he’s “all in” on the season, social distancing and all.

More good news came on August 31, when Wilson shared a photo of himself with his newborn daughter. The Dad Strength is palpable.

Throughout the past year, Wilson has grappled with a season-ending injury, a global pandemic and nationwide protests of police brutality and racial injustice. He watched his team celebrate one of the most-impressive seasons in recent history, all behind the wide receiver who was taking his place. No matter how selfless you are — no matter how much you may love your teammate — that couldn’t have been easy.

Wilson has mourned the death of a Kentucky great, Jared Lorenzen, by wearing custom No. 22 cleats, even though they’d stay on the sidelines and accompanied by crutches during the game. His own conference trolled him on Twitter with the quickly-deleted “put it in reverse, Terry” tweet that sparked BBN outrage. He stood in solidarity with his teammates and coaches last month, when athletes around the country decided against participating in games and practices in protest of police brutality.

Somewhere along the way, he parted ways with his signature look, cutting his hair for the first time in over a decade. He celebrated his college graduation and the birth of his daughter. He came back from a nasty injury that occurred in front of 55,240 fans inside Kroger Field and thousands more watching from their homes, one year ago today.

It’s been a helluva year for Terry Wilson, but in the wise words of Mark Stoops:

“We’re just getting started, bro.”

Article written by Maggie Davis

I love sports, podcasts, long walks on the beach and Twitter (@MaggieDavisKSR)