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Behind-the-Scenes: An in-depth look at Marco Wilson's decision to return

January 8, 2020
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Entering the 2020 football season Florida received a boost to their secondary when redshirt sophomore cornerback Marco Wilson announced he would return for his junior year. 

The announcement was another triumph for soon to be third-year head coach Dan Mullen, for Wilson, it was an indication his story at UF remains unfinished. 

“Our team has a lot of goals that we are still working to accomplish and I would love to be a part of that experience,” Marco wrote on Twitter. “I cannot wait to get back to work with my brothers for this upcoming season.”

According to his father, Chad Wilson, it wasn’t until preparation for the Capital One Orange Bowl that his son actually began to consider forgoing his remaining eligibility. He says entering the 2019 season, his son’s focus was making the most of his playing time following recovery from a torn ACL he had sustained in September of 2018. 

His father says that throughout his 2019 season, his son’s focus remained solely on the season. It wasn’t until a day after the Orange Bowl that the family sat together to discuss the chances of entering the draft. That’s not to say the thought never appeared in Wilson’s head during the season, but that it was never a priority compared to playing for the Gators. 

“Coach Mullen doesn’t recommend anything. He doesn’t tell you to go or stay. It’s more of, as I said, providing you with information.”
- Marco Wilson’s father Chad Wilson

Though Marco maintained the same level of freedom to decide what’s best for his future as he did in high school, the elder Wilson said he and his wife took more control over gathering information from experts in order to minimize as many distractions as possible and help assist their son in making the best possible decision for his future. 

With 36 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, three interceptions and two pass breakups, he did not miss a step in his return to the field. His largest downside was that he had only played 24 games in his career and there was still doubt his injury was a concern. 

“What was the standing belief out there was that coming back another year could improve the draft status because it was something that’s controllable,” Chad Wilson said. “If you’re a 5-foot-9 defensive back and you feel like that’s the reason that you’re, you know, let’s say a fourth-round pick, coming back another year is not going to make you 5-foot-11.”

According to Chad, the family was in contact with NFL experts experienced with the draft and any consensus rating outside a first or second-round pick was not worth forgoing his final two years of eligibility. He declined to say what draft rating his son received but that another year of football, post-injury, would prove the tear was a fluke and that he can sustain continued success on the field. 

Wilson’s success did not fall from his freshman season. In 2017, he compiled 34 total tackles and ten passes defended for a team that went 4-7. Besides the three interceptions, which many would view as an improvement in spite of the fewer passes defended, he also had experience playing nickel, compared to his traditional role as an outside corner. 

It’s worth noting that his performance in the Orange Bowl (two total tackles, one pass defended) did not influence his decision to remain at school. His father called it another game to add to his tape. 

“While he had a tremendous freshman year, this was kind of a ‘prove it, prove you can play healthy this year,’” Chad said. He added that the goal for next year is to reach an elite level. 

Additionally, the allure of a chance to reach College Football Playoffs and possibly a National Championship proved too much for the South Florida native. His father, a University of Miami defensive back from 1992-94, had first-hand experience when it comes to the sensation of having a title on the line -- playing in two BCS Championship games (‘92 and ‘94). 

“It’s a great experience and if he’s able to do that, that’s great,” his father said. “If he’s able to win one, that’s all the more better.”

Marco, one of two Wilson sons, did not face the same circumstances his older brother, Quincy Wilson, had the decision to depart Florida as a junior or stay for his senior season. He opted for the former and in 2017 was drafted in the second round by the Indianapolis Colts. 

“At the time we started considering it for Quincy he had a 1-2 grade which I’m certain Marco would’ve had if he did not lose his sophomore season,” Mr. Wilson told Inside the Gators. “The decision to come out for Quincy was a no brainer. It was much harder for Marco.”

Once the season concluded, Mullen met with all players who had the ability to depart for the draft in order to discuss the best possible options for their careers. 

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The Wilson family was fortunate enough to have a second, face-to-face, round of discussions with Mullen thanks to the bowl location.

These conversations were much more in-depth this time around as compared to when Quincy was making his decision with Jim McElwain as the head coach of the Gators.

“We spoke with coach Mullen in South Florida,” said Mr. Wilson. “We had the luxury of the team being in the Orange Bowl. We had a lot more interaction with Mullen about this than we did with Mac [Jim McElwain] for the simple fact that it was a harder decision.”

According to Wilson’s father, the head coach remained objective and called upon his two decades worth of experience as a coach at the collegiate level to help advise his players. As Wilson’s father said, it’s the amount of trust players have in Mullen that allows them to know he has their best interest at heart. 

“Coach Mullen doesn’t recommend anything,” Chad said. “He doesn’t tell you to go or stay. It’s more of, as I said, providing you with information.”

Ultimately, only the family had a say in whether Marco would remain at Florida or depart for the NFL. Though Chad declined to divulge what the family spoke about -- saying that kind of information is best kept private -- he did say the largest factors involved what his draft outlook was, the 24 games played and the chance of improved performances over the course of next season. 

But now, Marco has a prime opportunity to become one of defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s key players on the 2020 defense. 

“[Now] he can have an off-season where he’s not rehabbing, but actually preparing for the season,” his father said.

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Behind-the-Scenes: An in-depth look at Marco Wilson's decision to return

3,310 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 12 days ago by Romeg8r
UFgator52-20
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He wasn't having a good year until they moved him to nickel. I hope he stays there next year and put Elam and anyone but Dean at the other corner.
Romeg8r
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