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Criticism of BYU quarterback Zach Wilson misfires, gets blowback

When an unnamed source leveled spurious claims about Zach Wilson, the reaction was nuclear

SHARE Criticism of BYU quarterback Zach Wilson misfires, gets blowback
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BYU quarterback Zach, Wilson warms for a game against Houston at TDECU Stadium in Houston, Texas on Oct. 16, 2020.

Jaren Wilkey, BYU

It’s the unnamed sources hiding behind anonymity, monikers on social media that have become the bane of our modern day. BYU junior quarterback Zach Wilson was the target of such this past week, and it may have backfired sensationally.

Earlier last week, the website Walter Football quoted a director of college scouting for an NFC team who said he had learned from an unnamed source that Wilson had “character issues.”

“(Wilson) has character concerns, rich kid who is an entitled brat - uncle owns Jet Blue, parents are a pain, not a leader, selfish, and he’s a know-it-all,” said a teaser quote for Walter’s Football on Twitter.

It was bounced on Twitter by WestCoastCFB, a site dedicated to Pac-12 and Mountain West football. In other words, a site that had to cover Wilson destroying Boise State and San Diego State.

To his teammates and coaches, this was the biggest stretch of pasture biscuits they’d ever heard.

That, more than anything else in this story, was the most impressive aspect of the attack.

His mates had his back.

The motivations behind the attack are unclear. Maybe someone wanted to knock him down a bit so he’d be available for them to draft him. Some analysts put Wilson as the No. 2 or 3 quarterback in the draft, a first-round pick.

I saw this happen back in the 1990 predraft musings with BYU All-America tight end Chris Smith, who led all tight ends in receiving yards and set an NCAA record.

Months before the draft, mock lists had Smith the first or second tight end. When the draft happened, he was the No. 17 tight end taken in the 11th round, No. 295. At the combine, he had tested while battling injuries, and although a national high school record relay sprinter, he ran a 5.05 time in the 40.

The attack on Smith came inSports Illustrated leading up to the draft. It came from a Toledo tight end Jerry Evans and NFL scout Dave-Te Thomas, who were both at the NFL combine in Indianapolis with Smith. Evans said of Smith, “He’s effeminate, he can’t block.” Dave-Te Thomas, enamored with Evans added, “I think Chris will look good in a business suit.”

Smith ended up going to Cincinnati, but didn’t make it through the summer as the Bengals had Rodney Holman, Eric Kattus and Jim Riggs.

But I’ll never forget how it hurt Smith. It was a cheap shot, something he’d never dream of doing.

Now back to Wilson.

The reaction to the anonymous quote in the Walter Football article was quick and hot.

My compadre Jay Drew worked on a story this past week interviewing more than a dozen people who worked with Wilson. Not one mentioned anything close to the allegations.

One of Wilson’s offensive linemen, Chandon Herring, tweeted: “I played with Zach for several years & have nothing but respect for the dude. He is entitled to nothing and works longer and harder than most to reach his goals. Don’t listen to people who haven’t trained, worked, or played with him to tell you about his character.”

Teammate Kyle Griffitts called it “Click bait, not worth it.”

Wide receiver coach Fesi Sitake added the tweet: “Someone clearly had a plan to damage Zach’s reputation. But as you look around, everyone & their dog is coming to his defense, which only increases his stock & displays his true character. So whoever that random troll is that started this, your plan has backfired. Good job.” 

Weber State-bound Corner Canyon receiver Noah Kjar also came to Wilson’s defense, tweeting, “@zachkapono was my QB my freshman year, and he was the biggest example to me. He led our team all the way to the semis with a team that wasn’t nearly as good around him. He made all of us play better. He’s a great leader. These guys don’t know what they’re talking about.”

Current teammate and blocker Connor Pay joined in on Twitter, “Couldn’t be further from the truth. Zach is a great ballplayer, but he’s an even better person.”

BYU’s offensive line coach Eric Mateos, who is in the running for the best staff follow on Twitter, took the sarcastic route and used a clown emoji at the end, posting: “Agree. Zach is very inconsiderate. He would text me after 10 @ night asking me why he didn’t get an under-center snap exchange clean. Can’t believe what a dirtbag he is. It was particularly annoying how interested in Blitz Pick-up he is as well. He should definitely come back.” 

Cornerback coach Jernaro Gilford, whose guys go up against Wilson daily, tweeted: “I will second that Zach is one of the most selfish/stingy guys I’ve ever met. I mean I’ve only been asking for 3 years on a daily basis that he throws my guys a INT in practice and he might’ve given in 3xs in 3 years. Just selfish! I hate it in practice and love it in games.” 

Reactions here don’t include a train of fan tweets highlighting photos and testimonials of Wilson signing autographs with kids, making appearances in hospitals, going out of his way to meet, greet and spend time with families, spending hours after practices and school signing shirts, posters and autographs requested through the school’s sports information department.

Anonymous sources these days have ruined the news business. From the political to the societal, from academia to frontiers of journalism, it has created an army of weak, spineless, chicken keyboard warrior recreants who hide and fire potty arrows.

This appears to be from that stinky swamp.

The Wilson family, from parents Mike and Lisa to extended relatives, have been amazing, accomplished, friendly, caring people. I’ve witnessed it firsthand.

Wilson is borderline GOAT these days in Provo, a college town and fan base starved for that kind of QB figure.

And they’ve known quite a few.