As sports media types toss around ideas about possible outcomes for the apparent growing gulf in the relations between the Seattle Seahawks and star quarterback Russell Wilson, none has offered, or likely considered, the idea of just starting a new “Wilson Era.” Not with Russell but with Zach.
Zach Wilson is the BYU quarterback who has risen dramatically since he entered BYU as the top Utah high school quarterback. He capped his freshman year earning MVP honors in the Potato Bowl in which his passing (including an 18 for 18 perfect day in the air) and running guided BYU to victory over Western Michigan.
So in the 2020 season, his junior year after which he decided to turn pro, Zach Wilson was number one in the nation in pass attempts (336), completions (247), total yards (3,692), and touchdowns (33). Incidentally, 10 of those TD’s were on runs. Zach ran 70 times for 254 yards, evidencing a penchant and talent to put it in the air or run for it with equal confidence, similar to Russell Wilson.
Now a top NFL draft expert has declared that Zach Wilson, assumed to be one of the top quarterback picks in the forthcoming draft, is not only better than Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence but more polished for the NFL than any quarterback in the 2021 draft.
Some of those media types are theorizing on what backup quarterbacks are out there whom the Seahawks could look to trade for if Russell Wilson presses to be and is traded.
Interestingly, Zach, at 6-3 and 210-pounds, has four inches on the 5-11 Russell to get a better look past oncoming pass rushers.
And he would be most likely of any prospective successor to Russell Wilson to emulate the good-guy image that Russell evidenced prior to the finger-pointing between him and the Seahawks now being played out.
In fact, the final sales pitch to Zach three years ago by BYU coach Kilani Sitaki may be without precedent in the annals of college recruiting.
Wilson was already committed to Boise State from among nearly 20 offers from schools around the country but decided, at the end of a four-hour conversation he and his mom, Lisa, and dad, Mike, had with head coach Sitaki to change his mind. As the four-hour meeting ended, coach Sitake, a one-time starting fullback at BYU, made one final pitch.
“Zach, you can drive home every Sunday night and have dinner with your family.” Offered Sitaki, knowing Wilson’s home was in Draper, about 18 miles from BYU in Provo.
Zach is just a home kid,” explained Lisa. “He wanted to be home for Sunday dinners. He wanted to be home for Tuesday night dinners when his beloved grandparents have a standing invitation. He wanted his family to be able to see him play.”
I have written about Zach before he was known to any but local Utah writers because his “beloved” grandpa, Gary Neeleman, is my closest longtime friend from our days as colleagues as western executives with United Press International.
Gary began sending me emails about Zach from the point at which he was judged the best high school quarterback in Utah.
Zach hasn’t made any comments about where he’d like to play and when I asked Gary if I could maybe talk with Zach about that he said: “he’d have to get his agent’s ok and he’s a shy kid who wouldn’t press his agent about doing an interview, or indicating whether he might like to come to Seattle.”
My hope was that a week after getting an unlikely interview with Gonzaga basketball coach Mark Few I might have a chance to talk with the 21-year old who (were he to be Russell’s successor) might soon make Seattle fans happy with the outcome.
Gary relayed the word from Zach yesterday. “I talked to my agency and they said no to the article, unfortunately. Tell your friend I am sorry.”
Much would have to occur in terms of a deal for a Russell Wilson trade and successful dealing by Zach’s agent for there to be a new Wilson leading the Seahawks into the future.
But should that come about, Seattle could be like a second hometown to the young Wilson. Gary told me Zach’s teenage cousin, one of three daughters of his prominent Seattle attorney uncle, John Neeleman, “was glued to the TV for every play of every game.”
“She keeps pleading with him, ‘please come to the Seahawks,” Gary chuckled.
And another uncle, David Neeleman, founder of Jet Blue and Brazil’s Azul, will have a fleet of jetliners for his new Salt Lake-based airline and could presumably borrow one to fill with the dozens of relatives to fly to Seattle home games. As when 50 family members were in the stands in Boise for that 2019 Potato Bowl.