As hype for the 2021 NFL draft continues its long buildup, BYU Cougars head coach Kalani Sitake made an appearance on NFL Network Wednesday to discuss who else but Zach Wilson, his former quarterback who is primed to be one of the first players chosen in the draft.
A good amount of what Sitake and host Patrick Claybon discussed would be familiar to Cougars fans, although Sitake did provide some unique insights into Wilson.
Here are Sitake’s comments about various topics.
On Wilson’s athleticism:
“I think a lot of people don’t realize the type of athlete that he is. He was a point guard in high school basketball, he’s got an amazing vertical (leap), he’s got a lot of burst and twitch, he can play a lot of different positions and he just happens to sling the ball really well. That’s why he’s playing quarterback.”
On comparisons to Patrick Mahomes:
“I don’t want to make a lot of comparisons. I think Zach’s a different type of player, but he can do a lot of things on the football field and he can do a lot of things in a lot of different sports. I mean, he can try anything and he’ll be good at it. Once he gets his mind set to it, the guy has amazing work ethic and I think he’s going to be just fine in the NFL.”
On having to rein Wilson in at all or not:
“No, I like innovation and creativity, and so any time it can help us win games — I mean, if it’s stuff that he’s been working on, I’m OK with it. Looking at him throwing the ball at different angles, but also using his feet to get out the pocket and create more space, the kid’s just been ready for this moment.
“I’m excited that he’s going to the NFL. I’d obviously like to keep him around as much as possible, but this is a good opportunity for him to go out and live his dreams, and I think that’s part of my job, is to allow these young men to accomplish their dreams.
“It’s not just limited to the football field. This guy has got a lot of ability. He’s really smart. He’s going to do great things even outside of the football field, and I’m really excited for his future.”
On where Wilson stacks up among quarterbacks he’s been around:
“I think he’s got that ‘it’ factor that a lot of people talk about that you probably can’t gauge and there’s no way to measure, but he’s just got ‘it.’ Leadership ability, also the ability to work hard and put everything together, and then he’s got this moxie on the field that is hard to teach, and I think when you put that all together, it was my job and coach (Aaron) Roderick’s job as quarterbacks coach to allow him to be himself and to be the best version of himself. We saw that a lot of times this year and a lot of times in his career here at BYU and looking forward to seeing him do it on Sundays.”
On Wilson’s expression of gratitude for him on social media:
“It meant a lot to me, but I know that’s how he felt in his heart, and listen, this young man is very appreciative for what he has, and he’s very mindful of those that are around him that have allowed him to get to where he’s at, and so I think just giving praise to others, that’s just what he did for me on a social media platform, but you should see the way he interacts with his teammates and everyone around him.
“It’s just not even on the team. There’s people that he connects with, our fans, people that are hurting, he’s always taking time to reach out to others, and so it just makes sense that this guy who’s got this great level of gratitude. It makes sense for him to appreciate a lot of other people and then to thank them for it, and I’m just thankful to be his coach. Coaching him has made me a better person, and I’m looking forward to keeping that relationship with him and his family, just like I’m trying to do with the rest of his teammates.”