Five minutes here and five minutes there over a two-day period last August changed the way former BYU star Zach Wilson plays quarterback.

Wilson and the New York Jets scrimmaged against the Green Bay Packers Aug. 18-19 in Wisconsin, just days before his preseason debut against the Packers at Lambeau Field.

Several times during practice, Wilson came face to face with Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and he had a bunch of questions to ask.

Rodgers was drafted by Green Bay in 2005 when Wilson was 5 years old. During those brief exchanges, the eventual Hall of Fame quarterback gave Wilson his secret to success.

“He talked to me about reading with your feet,” Wilson said in an exclusive interview on “BYU Sports Nation” on BYUtv. “Your feet are completely tied to your decision-making and the timing within a play. If you do a certain drop, that hitch needs to be taking you to progression one and the second one to your next, and it just keeps the rhythm in the play and the timing synched together, so you are always on time. Your feet are always on the ground, and you are able to make throws because you are balanced, and you are set.”

Days after their discussion, Wilson completed 9 of 11 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns in New York’s 23-14 preseason win. Rodgers didn’t play but watched Wilson from the sideline and said afterward, “He’s a good young kid, has a nice disposition. I’m so excited for what he can do in this league.”

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, left, and New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson talk during a joint training camp practice Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. What did the two QBs discuss? “Read with your feet.” | Matt Ludtke, Associated Press

The Jets finished 4-13 in Wilson’s rookie season. Rodgers and the Packers finished 13-4 and clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. He is also the leading candidate for the league MVP award.

Wilson’s message to his former Cougar quarterbacks who harbor the same NFL dreams is this: “If I was a quarterbacks coach, I would really harp on it — making sure you simplify the game and read with your feet, and the rest kind of takes care of itself.”

Zach’s wild ride

During Wilson’s final year at BYU, he threw for 3,692 yards and 33 touchdowns with just three interceptions. He also ran for 10 touchdowns. Everything he touched seemed to turn to gold in the Cougars’ 11-1 season.

His New York debut season was quite different. Wilson threw for 2,334 yards, nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also tied for the team high with four rushing touchdowns despite missing four games with a knee injury.

Wilson’s rookie season had all the twists and turns of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland. Among the high points, he threw for 297 yards and two touchdowns in the Jets’ 27-24 overtime win against Tennessee on Oct. 3 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. The Titans went on to clinch the AFC’s No. 1 seed for the playoffs.

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In a Dec. 19 matchup between the top two overall picks in last year’s draft, Wilson (No. 2) threw a touchdown pass and ran for a 52-yard score to win the duel with Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence (No. 1) 26-21.

Wilson came face to face with defending Super Bowl champion Tom Brady and the Bucs on Jan. 2 in New Jersey. Wilson threw a touchdown pass and built a 24-17 lead going into the fourth quarter. Brady mounted a Tampa Bay rally and his touchdown pass to Cyril Grayson with 15 seconds remaining won the game, 28-24.

“All the ups and downs, the emotions, the learning experiences, the stress, the fun, it was a little bit of everything,” Wilson said. “But I really did enjoy it.”

Wilson finished the last five games of the season without throwing an interception and marched the Jets into the offseason with optimism. He is back in Utah and will spend the next month recovering from his NFL debut. He will report back to the Jets in mid-April for off-season workouts and for training camp at the end of July.

Meet and greets

It has become customary for opposing quarterbacks to meet at midfield to shake hands after each game. For Wilson, it has brought him face-to-face with quarterbacks like seven-time Super Bowl Champion Brady, who entered the NFL the year Zach was born.

“It’s not even the postgame conversation, but in the pregame warmups of going out there,” he said. “Me playing for the Jets against the Bucs doesn’t feel like the same Bucs that I was watching on TV. Midway through the game I look across and think, ‘This is crazy!’ That’s Gronk! (Rob Gronkowski). That’s Tom Brady! I don’t know if the reality of it has set in yet. It’s kind of crazy to think about but I’m really enjoying it.”

Cougar Club reunion

During the Jets game against New Orleans on Dec. 12, Wilson and Taysom Hill met up in a showdown of former BYU quarterbacks. Hill stole the show with two fourth-quarter touchdown runs to give the Saints a 30-9 victory.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill reacts as he leaves the field after the Saints defeated the New York Jets 30-9 in East Rutherford, N.J. After the game, Hill and fellow BYU alum and current Jets quarterback Zach Wilson spent a few moments discussing the process of becoming an NFL quarterback. | Bill Kostroun, Associated Press

After the game, the two quarterbacks shared a few moments together.

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“It was huge for BYU. I was expecting the whole stadium to be full of blue, having two BYU quarterbacks out there,” Wilson said. “We exchanged back-and-forths, wishing each other the best of luck. We talked about the process of being in the NFL and adjusting to the NFL game. It was good to catch up for a bit.”

Work vs. play

There is no question Wilson had the time of his life playing high school and college football in his home state. On occasion, he could be spotted with a smile on his face as he threw to an open teammate. But there is a difference when you are playing for fun, as opposed to playing for money.

“You can definitely see the business side of it. Every single week we have new guys in the locker room.” — Zach Wilson on life in the NFL

“You can definitely see the business side of it,” Wilson said. “Every single week we have new guys in the locker room.”

The Jets roster was constantly adjusted to deal with injuries and salary issues.

“But once it comes down to the game and the things we are all going through, and having each other’s back, it’s really the same as it’s been my whole life,” he said. “The best part is I don’t have to go to school. I get to play football for a living, hang out with the boys, and watch game tapes. It’s exactly what I want to do, and I don’t have to go home afterwards and do homework.”

True blue

Despite the time difference between Provo and New York, Wilson remains loyal to BYU, but he does have a beef with the scheduling.

“We have to stop with those 10:30 p.m. games on the East Coast,” he said. “I found out we beat Utah the next morning. I wanted to stay up, but I’m like, ‘I’ve got a game in the morning, and I can’t stay up until 2 a.m.’”

Wilson celebrated the 26-17 outcome over breakfast.

“I try to keep up with those guys and I try to show support for my brother (Josh) as well, because my whole family is going to go through BYU, so it’s exciting.”

Price of fame

There have been simpler times for Wilson. During his days at Corner Canyon High in Draper or as a student-athlete at BYU, he could date who he wanted without media inquiries.

Off the field, his business was his own. But just as Dorothy and Toto discovered they weren’t in Kansas anymore, Wilson has come to know that New York is not Utah.

The New York Post ran a headline last week saying “Zach Wilson, girlfriend quietly scrub each other from Instagram.” 

BYU quarterback Zach Wilson, right, greets fans after being selected by the New York Jets with the second pick in the NFL football draft Thursday, April 29, 2021, in Cleveland. | David Dermer, Associated Press

Wilson and longtime girlfriend Abbey have been dating since high school, but when The Post discovered last week that Abbey had “erased a picture of herself with Wilson posing outside MetLife Stadium in October, where he got his first Jets win” they just couldn’t help themselves.

Where is Woodward and Bernstein when you need them? Oh wait, that’s the Washington Post. Wrong paper. Different investigation.

The New York Post caters to a city population of 8.5 million and this is what they are writing about. Not Wilson’s touchdown to interception ratio, or the weakness of the Jets’ offensive line, or who New York might pick in the April draft?

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Instead, their focus is on why Abbey deleted a picture of her and Zach from her Instagram account and what it all could mean? 

What it means is that Wilson has hit the big time and this is what it costs.

“It’s definitely different. But when you are at this level everyone tries to analyze everything you do in life,” he said. “It’s a good thing for me to understand how to handle everything and always make sure I’m doing things the right way. As far as that (report) goes, it’s just going to be part of the job. You have to move on and try to ignore it, but I guess it means you are doing something when people are talking.”

Granted, New York sports media dissects the Jets and their problems ad nauseam, but Wilson’s girlfriend’s Instagram account? 

The Post and its team of investigators also reported that despite Abbey erasing a picture of Zach, “they still follow one another on their accounts.”

While the producers of “The Bachelor” must be wringing their hands in disappointment, millions of New Yorkers can sleep easier tonight.

The reality is, everything Zach does will be front and center to the New York crowd for as long as he’s wearing the Jets green and white. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a nice 22-year-old young man from BYU trying to find his way — it only adds to his story.

In many ways, both on and off the field, Wilson is no longer a rookie — and he couldn’t be happier about it.

Dave McCann is a contributor to the Deseret News and is the studio host for “After Further Review,” co-host for “Countdown to Kickoff” and the “Postgame Show” and play-by-play announcer for BYUtv.