In this, the last of his six-year affiliation as a player with Utah State's football team, running back Abu Wilson is a powerful runner who's made a playful habit of juking any comments about the many school (eight) and conference (two) records he holds or the additional USU marks within his reach with one regular-season game left.
Ask him if there's one record that satisfies him more than any other, and he smartly answers, "Our won-lost record, as long as the wins outweigh the losses.""I got ya," he triumphantly adds, having dodged another record question.
He says he doesn't even know what records he has, "because I don't even look at them yet; I'm going to look at them after the season."
That could be as soon as Saturday, should the Aggies (4-0 Big West, 6-4 overall) lose their noon game in Romney Stadium against defending conference champ Nevada (3-1, 6-3). The winner goes to Las Vegas Bowl V on Dec. 19; the loser ends its season.
Either way, it's the final home game for Wilson, one of the top two or three USU backs ever.
"The last home game," he says. "Life goes on. We prepare for it so much in a business-like manner that I don't know if I'll have time to embrace the moment.
"It's the completion of a career here in Romney Stadium, but I look forward to playing my last game down in, what is that, UNLV Stadium."
Wilson has great desire to play in the 1996 Vegas Bowl since he missed the '93 LVB-II Aggie win. Wilson sat out that season plus the following spring drills with a preseason '93 injury that required total surgical knee reconstruction. He didn't get a '93 championship ring. He wants one now. The NCAA last winter granted his request for a medical redshirt year that let him be a senior again in 1996.
The second half of this season has been difficult for Wilson because nagging injuries - most notably now a groin pull - hurt his performance the last month and helped true freshman Demario Brown become the starter over the school's and league's all-time best ground gainer.
"It frustrates me because I don't think defenses fear me because I'm not 100 percent, I'm on the sideline. Defenses fear Brown because he's so talented. I wish that I was healthy the second half of the season," Wilson says.
In the last four games, Brown averaged 154 yards per game and scored four times. He has 616 yards, six TDs for the season. Wilson scored five TDs but averaged 54 yards in the last four games. He has 828 yards, 16 TDs for the season. In 1995, a healthy season, Wilson ran for 1,476 yards, 15 TDs.
But Wilson says staying another season has been worth it. "Very much so," he says. "Last year, we didn't have a winning season (4-7). I think I've developed into a stronger player, and I wanted to do that. And to complete school (he graduates in December)." He finished the '95 season at 193 pounds, and he's 213 now. That's let him "play bigger."
Wilson doubts he'll start Saturday. "The groin (injury) is not where I want it to be," he says. "I started my career as a backup, and I'll end as a backup. I'd like to (start), but that's the coach's decision, and I'll never question a coach's decision."
Coach John L. Smith said Tuesday that Wilson will start his last home game.
Because of injuries as a '92 redshirt freshman, the projected starter Wilson did play behind walk-on freshman Tai Gordon for the first three games. In fact, Wilson's shared backfield time with others much of his career.
That makes Wilson's records all the more remarkable.
Gordon (72-for-232, 2 TDs) and Wilson (164-795, 5 TDs) were both all-Big West second-team rushers as freshmen. Profail Grier ran the Ags to the '93 Vegas Bowl, while Wilson was hurt, and returned in '94 boasting he'd gain 1,500 yards. Wilson won the starting spot halfway through '95 and, on his reconstructed knee, ran 158 times for 822 yards and four scores. Grier was 112-247. In '95, Wilson was 275-1,476, 15 TDs, spelled by Melvin Blue (44-248).
Abu Wilson's records
Big West Conference records held (2): Career rushing attempts (789*), career rushing yards (3,919*).
Utah State records held outright (5): Most rushing yards by a freshman (795). Career rushing attempts (789*), career rushing yards (3,919), career touchdowns (41*), single-season rushing touchdowns (16*).
Utah State records for which Wilson is tied (3): Touchdowns in a season (16*), 100-yard rushing games in a season (8), career 100-yard rushing games (17*).
Utah State records still within Wilson's reach with one game left (2): Points in a season (record 105, Wilson has 96), points in a career (record 248, Wilson 240).
* Can change in final regular-season game Saturday.