BY DREW CHAMPLIN | email@example.com
TROY – Mark Wilson is determined to make the most of his second tour of duty with the Troy football team.
Wilson, a highly rated recruit out of Tallahassee, Fla., came to Troy in 2010, redshirted that year, but grades forced him out of Troy. At that point, most Troy people didn’t think the 6-foot, 234-pound linebacker would make it back.
“There has been times when I doubted (he’d be back),” Troy head coach Larry Blakeney said. “Right now, knock on wood, he’s doing some good things and he’s working hard. I’m happy for him and I think he can help the team.”
Bigger schools have been knocking on Wilson’s door. He signed with Illinois originally, but he was a late qualifier and was asked to grayshirt. He didn’t want to, so he came to Troy. At Fullerton, he had 46 tackles (five for loss) in seven games and earned all-conference honors. He was committed to Arkansas briefly, but his heart was always in Troy.
“I was committed (to Arkansas), but I felt like I had an obligation to all my teammates (at Troy),” Wilson said. “I have a lot of close friends here. This is where my heart was, and I felt like this was the right place for me to be.”
A high school coach helped Wilson get out to Fullerton, where he said he earned all As and Bs and regained NCAA eligibility.
“It was a long journey,” Wilson said. “I had to mature as a player and mature as a student-athlete. I felt like I had something to prove to the fans, to the coaches and to my teammates.
“I didn’t know anyone out there. It was different. The weather was beautiful. It was a great place, but there’s nothing like Troy, Alabama.”
At first, Wilson actually recruited Troy coaches to him more than the other way around.
“I did my part and made sure I stayed in touch with the coaching staff,” Wilson said. “It was my fault, the reason I had to leave. I really didn’t feel like they had an obligation to recruit me, but I was humble and I am glad to be back.
“It was a great season. I was determined to get back to where I came from. I made sure I played hard and showed the coaches that I had something in me. I had something to prove.”
Troy coaches are glad he’s back. Wilson missed most of spring ball with a concussion, but he’s certainly in the mix for playing time this fall.
“He’s been getting better every day,” linebackers coach Benjy Parker said. “He’s showed signs of that guy from Lincoln High that we saw. Right now, he’s progressing every day and getting better.”
Defense takes morning session: Troy’s morning session of a two-a-day practice Tuesday was won by the defense, Blakeney said. In 11-on-11 drills, the defense had four interceptions. Starting quarterback Corey Robinson was picked off twice by safety Brynden Trawick on deflected balls and once by cornerback T.J. Bryant. Freshman safety Montres Kitchens intercepted a pass from backup quarterback Deon Anthony, also off a deflection.
“They were striving to get lined up and get their technique and run,” Blakeney said. “They played to the ball in the secondary. They had some great jumps on some plays. It was positive for them and not so positive for the offense.”
Up next: Troy practices once today at 8:15 a.m., and the final two-a-day practice is Thursday. The Trojans’ first scrimmage is Saturday at 11 a.m. and Fan Day is Sunday from 1-3 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Stadium.