Zach Wilson and Aaron Roderick, BYU’s third-year starting quarterback and third-year quarterbacks coach, look like they are having an absolute blast playing and coaching football this season.

Why wouldn’t they? Both are football junkies to the nth degree, are part of a Cougars team that is undefeated midway through November and ranked No. 8 in the national polls, and Wilson is a bonafide Heisman Trophy candidate, albeit still a long shot because, frankly, he doesn’t play for a Power Five program.

What’s more, Wilson is putting up video game-like numbers, and the junior is looking like a lock to be taken in the first few rounds of next April’s NFL draft, perhaps the third QB taken after Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State’s Justin Fields, a topic that most of the rest of this article is about, we promise.

“I still have an inbox full of hate mail from people who didn’t want (Zach Wilson) to be the starting quarterback this year. So we have both, I would say, had a chip on our shoulder every day this season.” — BYU quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick.

But there’s an underlying anger to how both men have approached this magical BYU season, Roderick allowed Wednesday night in a Zoom meeting with reporters, that sheds a little more light on what drives the youthful-looking player and coach in 2020.

“I still have an inbox full of hate mail from people who didn’t want him to be the starting quarterback this year,” Roderick said. “So we have both, I would say, had a chip on our shoulder every day this season.”

So much for that big grin and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-looking headband the baby-faced Wilson always seems to be sporting. More telling about what drives this young man is a wrist band that says, simply, “Prove Them Wrong.”

Said his lifelong friend and roommate Dax Milne: “He’s a lot more intense than people think.”

Wilson hasn’t definitively proclaimed that this is his last season in Provo, but there isn’t a player, coach, family member or anyone else with close ties to the product of Draper’s Corner Canyon High that believes he’ll be back. His parents have already chatted with some of the most prominent agents in the business.

And he continues a meteoric rise up NFL mock draft boards, a development that seemed unimaginable three months ago when the Cougars had a would-be quarterback competition in fall camp but only a couple games on their schedule. If Wilson does sign for millions next summer, as expected, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe should get a cut.

“The story of the NFL draft process thus far has been the ascension of Wilson,” wrote The Athletic’s Dane Brugler, who had the 6-foot-2, 212-pound Wilson going sixth overall last week. “The competition on BYU’s schedule (the Cougars host 0-3 North Alabama Saturday at 1 p.m. at LaVell Edwards Stadium) doesn’t get evaluators excited, but his library of throws … is why he is in the top-10 conversation. His outstanding instincts, arm talent and accuracy have NFL teams buzzing. Some around the league believe he could go higher than sixth.”

That group includes Eric Edholm of Yahoo Sports, who wrote Wednesday that quarterbacks could go 1-2-3 in the draft for the first time since 1999 (Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, Akili Smith) and put Wilson at No. 3, going to the Washington Football Team. Of course, a lot depends on where teams finish, especially those with QB needs.

“This would be the highest a Cougar has ever been drafted,” Edholm wrote.

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How heavy is the NFL interest?

Roderick said that during BYU’s bye week last week he talked to almost every team in the NFL about Wilson.

“I think it was just about every team,” said Roderick. “They make their own decisions about his play. That’s their job. They’ve got scouts and evaluators and they are good at what they do and they make their own decisions about what they think of him as a player.”

Roderick said he mostly answered questions about Wilson’s personality, ambition and makeup as a person, “how he interacts with his teammates, what kind of leader he is, what kind of character he has, his aptitude for learning, his intelligence, all those kinds of things.”

Things that have been well-documented locally and on almost-weekly ESPN broadcasts of BYU’s games. A case could be made that in this day and age of BYU’s agreement with ESPN and a heavy social media presence, Wilson has received more national exposure than any athlete in BYU sports history not named Jimmer.

So what is Wilson telling his best friends on the team? Star receiver Gunner Romney isn’t saying — “I am not going to reveal any of his secrets or anything,” Romney said — but does acknowledge it is a topic of conversation almost daily.

“It is a pretty big deal. It is awesome for him. I am super happy for him, super proud that he is getting what he deserves,” Romney said. “It is definitely something that we bring up. I just kinda want to pick his brain and see what he is thinking and see what his future is going to hold.”

It is evident that Wilson isn’t driven by the need to provide money for his family, his friends say. His family lives in a sprawling, spacious home in Draper, his father (former Utah defensive tackle Mike Wilson) has done well as the owner of a number of convenience stores and laundromats and his uncle on his mom’s side, David Neeleman, is the founder of several airlines, including JetBlue, WestJet and Azul Brazilian.

BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes, who is also fielding calls about Wilson from NFL scouts, but not nearly as many as Roderick, “who spends 99% of the time with Zach,” said the QB is handling his newfound fame as well as he’s handled a lot of the junk defenses thrown at the Cougars this season by overmatched opponents.

“We want to help all of our players who will have an opportunity to move on,” Grimes said.

Mock draft purveyors are also doing their part.

Last week, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. had Wilson at No. 13 in the draft, while his colleague Todd McShay had Wilson at No. 16.

Wrote Kiper: “Wilson is legit. I included him in my quarterback rankings last month, calling him the ‘guy you better get to know now’ and he is still flying under the radar.”

Wrote McShay: “What a rise for Wilson. … I love his competitiveness and toughness in the pocket, and he has a high-end ability to extend plays. His deep-ball accuracy is also outstanding.”

USA Today says Wilson could go as high as No. 5, if Washington is in that position.

“With a Patrick Mahomes-like penchant for connecting on deep strikes and making plays outside the pocket, Wilson is worthy of top-five consideration,” wrote Luke Easterling.