Thursday when the preseason All-SEC coaches teams were released CJ Henderson was named to the first team. The talented junior from Miami has been the most decorated Gator this entire offseason and rightfully so. His light is shining so bright, though, that there’s a player being overlooked.
Marco Wilson is used to it by now. In high school he tore his ACL and missed the majority of his junior season. Wilson would have and probably should have been a five-star, All-American but was passed up when he didn’t have as much film and wasn’t able to camp like other players. He was doubted, somewhat forgotten or lost in the shuffle.
Wilson made the best of that situation and found a home at Florida. He became the fourth true freshman to start a season opener at cornerback — joining Joe Haden (2007), Janoris Jenkins (2008) and Marcus Roberson (2011). He started all 11 games, tallied 34 tackles, and led the team with 10 pass breakups — second most by a UF freshman ever. He was named to the Coaches Freshman All-SEC team.
Then it happened again. Just a few plays into the 2018 season Wilson felt it in his knee again. Before the trainers could reach him on the far sideline he already knew. It was his ACL. His season was over. Again.
Dan Mullen knew what had just happened to his team and he didn’t pull any punches or offer coach speak about “next man up.”
“To lose one of the absolute best players on your roster is obviously a big, big loss for us,” he said after a loss to Kentucky.
Henderson went on and blew up on a national scale, while Wilson rehabbed and cheered his on his friend from the sidelines.
Wilson still hasn’t watched the Kentucky game back.
“I might watch it the game week coming up just to see because they might be running the same offense. I might go back and see what we did wrong because we did lose that game,” he said. “I can learn on what we did wrong.”
That’s his attitude though. There’s no knee brace, there’s no looking back. He has his eyes set on 2019.
“I’m past that. I’m not really focused on that. I think if I go into that game thinking what happened last year I might go into it with too much emotion and it may take me off my assignment. That’s out of my head,” Wilson said. “I’m just focusing on beating them and playing my assignment that game and dominating that team.”
He hasn’t gotten the accolades that Henderson has but with the 2019 season just over a week away Wilson is ready to put his name on the postseason awards lists that didn’t recognize him before the season, not to mention how having Wilson back benefits the secondary and defense as a whole.
“It changes everything,” Ron English said. “It changes everything, because Marco’s a real dude. Marco’s a real dude, so it changes everything.”
He’s healthy, faster, stronger and more eager than ever to show that Mullen’s words after his injury in 2018 weren’t hyperbolic. Wilson wants to show that he’s one of the best players not only in orange and blue but in the country.