Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Clovis North transfer ready to lead Immanuel

Photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna
Last year, Aaron Wilson couldn't get on the football field right away for Immanuel High of Reedley because he had to sit out six games due to the CIF Central Section transfer rules.

Now, the IHS coaching staff doesn't plan to pull him off the field during games, as Wilson - the former Clovis North Bronco - has shown his versatility on offense (tight end), defense (outside linebacker/defensive back) and special teams (punter).

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior will be used in a variety of ways for the Eagles, as they prepare to open the 2014-15 season against Dos Palos at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 30, at Reedley High's Sal Gonzalez Field.

"He's not coming off the field," said his head coach Matt Armstrong. "We've got a lot of good athletes and I consider him one of them."

Wilson has given the Eagles a security blanket at tight end for the passing game. During a three-team scrimmage against Roosevelt and Madera South on Aug. 22, the senior was a mismatch for opposing safeties because of his size, hands and separation on his routes. Wilson burned defensive backs while running out routes and ran over any safety who tried to tackle him above his waist.

Wilson said his biggest strength is his ability to catch.

"God blessed me with some big hands," Wilson said. "It makes me catch anything that comes my way."

Wilson added that his receiving ability isn't his only strong trait.

"I also like my speed and strength," Wilson said. "I can break tackles and execute my routes. My size also is a big thing, but I can also get low (with pad level). In our division (Division V), we go against much smaller guys, so I need to get low when I hit them. I want to be able to run through them and run them over."

One program from the Mountain West Conference has been impressed with Wilson's size and ability. The University of Wyoming stopped by IHS during the NCAA Spring Evaluation period to learn more about him.

"They're saying I do have talent. I have potential too," Wilson said. "They did tell me I've got a lot of work to do but I need to keep working as hard as I can and give a 100 percent effort each play."

The Cowboys are moving to a pro style offense this season that could feature a three tight end set. The offense is similar to what Stanford runs under head coach David Shaw. Armstrong said Wyoming has talked to Wilson about possibly playing tight end.

Wilson won't just be an asset to the IHS offense. He hopes to make a similar impact on the IHS defense, which plans to use him as an outside rusher in the Eagles' 3-4 (three defensive linemen, four linebackers) scheme.

"I'm really looking forward to playing defense. We'll be way better than last year," Wilson said. "We have a really athletic team even though we've got short roster numbers."

Wilson showed his nose for the football during the Eagles' opening scrimmage. He disrupted some outside running plays while lining up as a weakside linebacker. Against the pass, Roosevelt and Madera South saw No. 5 come crashing down on quarterbacks for the sack.

Armstrong said Wilson has speed and a strong work ethic, which allows Wilson to be a moving piece on the IHS defense.

"He runs a 4.74 40-yard dash time. He's done a lot of work in the weight room and he's trimmed himself down," Armstrong said. The third-year IHS football coach added that Wilson has lost 15 pounds from last season.

Wilson is excited about playing an entire season this time for IHS. He said sitting out those six games is his motivation for this year. 

"It makes me want to work harder and improve my game a lot, Wilson said. "This year will be way bigger (for me)."


What to like: Wilson is considered a raw prospect because he's transitioning to tight end this season. However, he has the tools to flourish in the Eagles' new pro style offense, which plans to throw the ball more. Wilson already has impressive size for a high school tight end. He'll win a lot of one-on-one battles because of his size, separation and strength to out-muscle defensive backs for the ball. On defense, Wilson is an intriguing prospect as an outside linebacker because of his closing speed, size and instincts.

What to build on: I need to see his consistency with his route running, especially since he's still undergoing a learning curve at tight end in a new offense. He also can build on his footwork during run blocking. On defense, he's a disruptive force against the run and with rushing the quarterback, but I need to see his ability to drop back into coverage and play the pass.

Overall: If he has a breakout season, Wilson is capable of getting on a mid-major program's radar. He could be the difference maker for the Eagles' offense and defense.

More on Wilson: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/437536/highlights/158465657

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