DRAPER — Hard work and determination placed upon an already potent skill set has forged Corner Canyon linebacker Josh Wilson into much more than just Zach Wilson’s little brother.
Through seven games this season the second BYU commit from the Wilson family is second on the team in total tackles and has three interceptions playing from his linebacker position. It’s the type of play that has helped spur Corner Canyon to its No. 1 statewide ranking and perfect 7-0 record, along with procuring a scholarship offer from the Cougar staff.
“He’s a very physical — sort of big-hit guy who just makes plays for us,” described Corner Canyon coach Eric Kjar. “He’s been able to get some interceptions for us and return some of those for touchdowns. He’s also a big weight-room guy who works very hard and you’re seeing it pay off with his play.”
And what does big brother think?
“He’s had an amazing year so far and I’m proud of seeing how he’s developed into the great player he is,” said Zach Wilson. “I’ve been able to see a lot of his games and I’ve continued to work with him and yeah, he’s just reached another level this year with his play.”
Of course, BYU fans have become well aware of Zach Wilson’s abilities during the past two seasons and could net good returns from Josh come the 2020 season when the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder plans to enter the program and compete at inside linebacker.
Wilson Academy of Hard Knocks
Not surprisingly, things were quite competitive between Josh and Zach growing up only two years apart in age. All involved describe two brothers who went at each other quite a bit, which would seem natural considering their athleticism and competitive drive.
“I’m not going to lie, there may have been a fistfight or two between them growing up,” said father Mike Wilson.
Mike was a high-level athlete himself, playing defensive end for the University of Utah in the early 1990s. Mike saw the potential of both his sons quite early in their development, although the skill sets were not the same.
“Zach was always a bit taller and leaner, while Josh was more thick,” Mike said. “So it was obvious early on that Zach was best-suited to play on offense and at quarterback while Josh was a natural fit to play defense.”
With lines drawn, the brothers competed hard while pushing each other constantly to be better. But would Zach take it a bit easy on little brother, considering he was two years older?
“It certainly seemed like he’d never go easy on me, and yeah, there were a few fights,” Josh recalled. “If you ask some of my friends they’d say he was mean and sort of a bully at times, but I didn’t see it that way. He’s a competitive guy who never wants little brother to beat him, but at the same time wants me to be the best player I can be.”
Zach largely agrees with Josh’s assessment, while adding the payoff went both ways.
“It was just that dynamic you have with big brother and little brother with both of us being so competitive,” Zach said. “I like to think it helped make him tougher and it honestly helped me as well.”
While Zach was drawing notice as a top quarterback prospect late in his prep career, Josh was starting to serve notice as a more than capable linebacker prospect himself, and started to really serve notice after Zach graduated.
“I think I started to realize just how good I could become right after Zach left for BYU,” Josh said. “I had an OK sophomore year, but feel I really shot out during my junior year knowing I could compete and even play at the next level.”
Mike noticed it, too.
“Josh has always been a hard worker, but you could definitely see him make even bigger strides — especially in the weight room,” he said. “He’s also worked hard on specific techniques, which has helped his pass coverage and that’s just who he is. He’s always been someone who works hard and I think once he really realized just how good he could be that he put in even more time.”
One of Josh’s more extraordinary stats are his seven interceptions through 12 games played last season and seven games so far this year. According to Mike, Josh’s prowess as a pass defender comes through both natural instinct and film study with dad and big brother.
“Zach and I both sat down with him to really work on baiting quarterbacks,” Mike explained. “Zach obviously has a great perspective with what makes things difficult on a quarterback and has helped impart that to Josh. We’ve worked hard what we call a drop-and-drift technique.”
Mike believes BYU’s system, which calls for inside linebackers to drop and play coverages effectively, fits well with the type of skill Josh possesses.
As mentioned, Josh Wilson liked what BYU had to offer during the first visit he took with Zach between his sophomore and junior seasons. It wasn’t long after when BYU coaches offered him a scholarship, which he quickly accepted despite receiving mounting interest from other programs.
“Once I saw how everything was there I just grew to love it. It was absolutely the place I wanted to be after visiting there with all the coaches and players, so when they offered it wasn’t something I had to think about much,” Josh said.
- From left to right, brothers Zach Wilson, Josh Wilson and Micah Wilson pose for a photo with their father, Mike Wilson, front right. Courtesy Mike Wilson
- Josh Wilson, center, poses for a photo with BYU head coach Kalani Sitake, right, and Ed Lamb, BYU assistant head coach/special teams coordinator and linebackers coach. Courtesy Mike Wilson
- Josh Wilson poses for a photo in BYU gear. Courtesy Mike Wilson
- Corner Canyon linebacker Josh Wilson, center, wraps-up Lone Peak running back Daniel Yamada during a game at Corner Canyon High School in Draper on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. Steve Griffin, Deseret News
- Corner Canyon linebacker Josh Wilson, center, fills a gap during football game against Lone Peak at Corner Canyon High School in Draper on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. Steve Griffin, Deseret News
- Corner Canyon linebacker Josh Wilson screams after recovering a fumble during football game against Lone Peak at Corner Canyon High School in Draper on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Most of the interest in Josh has come from Fresno State, Oregon State and yes, Utah, the very program the Wilson family cheered for prior to Zach signing at BYU.
“It’s sort of weird, and yeah, it was weird when Zach signed with BYU, but it’s not at all anymore,” Josh said of his family’s change of allegiance. “I love BYU and the opportunities I’ll have there.”
Mike has become a fan of the program too, and is strongly in favor of all his sons moving on to play at BYU for coach Kalani Sitake and his staff.
“It’s a great environment and as a dad, you love that for your sons,” Mike said. “You know they can stay out of trouble there, playing with other outstanding young men. I love and trust the coaches and know they have my kid’s best interest in mind in everything.”
Zach is excited for Josh to join him at BYU, too, noting his inclusion within the program will serve both of them well as their relationship continues to grow.
“My relationship with all my brothers has gotten better since I got to BYU,” Zach said. “I don’t know if it’s just the maturity thing, but Josh and I are real close and talk all the time and I can’t wait for him to get here. I know he’ll push me to be better even more when he gets here and he’ll hold me accountable, and I’ll do the same for him.”