When the Kentucky Wildcats run out of the tunnel at Jordan-Hare Stadium this Saturday, it will be a dream realized for quarterback Terry Wilson, a day he once thought might not ever happen.
“I’m really fortunate to be in this position right now. I’m just really ready to get back on the field,” Wilson said Tuesday. “There was times that I didn’t think that we were going to have a season. I’m just really fortunate to get back out there with my brothers and compete.”
Wilson fought for his final opportunity. It’s been more than a year since a horse collar tackle sent Terry Wilson to the turf. Kentucky’s quarterback suffered a torn patellar tendon in his left knee, ending his junior season after less than two games.
There were many obstacles standing between Wilson and the gridiron. The rehabilitation process was grueling. As his knee got healthier, the world got sick, putting the 2020 college football season in jeopardy. In the middle of all the chaos, he graduated and became a father. It was not easy but through it all he had a light at the end of a tunnel leading him back to the football field.
“He’s been really good in camp so far. I’ve had the chance to see some really remarkable plays, stuff that gives me a lot of hope this season and a lot of confidence in him this season,” said senior left tackle Landon Young.
“The big thing I saw was the maturity. I know from personal experience that it’s real easy to get down on yourself and let everything affect you outside of the game and in the game when you have a season-ending injury. To see him still stay with the team and just continue to teach those young guys, continue to keep that quarterback room close was really amazing for me to see the maturity. He had to step up that maturity anyways because he’s a new father. He’s got a whole other role in life now.”
Wilson is trying to block out his wide range of emotions and remain focused on the task at hand. Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran knows that’s much easier said than done. That is why he’s taking extra steps to help Wilson seamlessly transition back under center.
“It’s going to be interesting for Terry. He’s going to be nervous. It’s my job to make sure that he feels comfortable in everything that we’re calling and everything that we’re doing. I’ll get a feel for him as we’re going just like I did two years ago with him,” said Gran.
“I think it’s just going to be important for him to get back into a stadium and get that feeling and the heart racing. I think the guys around him will really help him and I want to see him manage the game, put us in a position to win the football game.”
“I’m just ready to play,” said Wilson. “I’m not thinking about my leg. (I) Feel like my leg is pretty fine. I have full confidence in my leg and I’ve had this whole camp to be able to get used to it. I’m just ready to get out there. I’m not thinking about anything that’s going to be difficult. I’m just relying on the gameplan coaches put in for us and trying to execute it the best way that we can.”
Wilson’s leg feels fine. His head is in the right place. There’s just one thing left to do and he’ll be ready to play.
“I feel like after that first hit I’ll be back to normal. Once you’re on the field, it’s time to go. You don’t have much time to think about anything.”
Terry Wilson has been thinking about Saturday’s game for far too long. Now it’s time to finally play some football.