Wilson standing tall

Nobody thought Julian Wilson would make this big of an impact at OU. Nobody except Wilson.

When it comes to cornerbacks, it is always said you need to have a short memory. Being out on an island, you’re likely to lose as many battles as you win.

Forget about the last play and get ready for the next. Oklahoma cornerback Julian Wilson doesn’t forget, it’s something that has driven him since arriving in Norman.

Virtually out of nowhere, Moore (Okla.) Southmoore became a temporary hotbed for football. Most notably for OU. The Class of 2010 featured Wilson and four-star tight end Austin Haywood. The Class of 2011 had high three-star quarterback Kendal Thompson.

“I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder,” Wilson said. “I remember that every time I step onto the field. When I got here, people said I was just going to play special teams. After I played special teams, they said I’d never play defense. “After I played defense, they said I’d never be a starter. You know, I’ve heard it all. But it’s at a point now where I know the expectations I have for myself and the confidence I have in myself as a player. I just want to compete.”

As for Wilson, he wasn’t highly regarded. According to Scout, Wilson was the lowest-ranked signee for OU’s 2010 class. He wasn’t even considered a cornerback. Instead, he was labeled as a receiver, the No. 106th receiver in the nation.

Now a senior, Wilson is the last Southmoore player standing. Haywood left the OU program a couple of years ago. Thompson, struggling to find his role with the Sooners, transferred to Utah following last season.

“Those are my best friends,” Wilson said. “Big A (Haywood) and Thurm (Thompson) – yea, we were the Southmoore trio. Now I’m the only left. I’m still here. God has a different plan for everybody.”

And Wilson has a different plan for his senior season than what anybody else thought. Wilson was originally recruited as a cornerback for the Sooners but few people remember that because of his role at nickelback since the return of Mike Stoops as defensive coordinator.

Everybody knew the search was on for OU’s second starting cornerback, the unenviable task of replacing Aaron Colvin. Few realized Wilson was throwing his hat into the ring. And fewer knew just how successful that transition would be.

“I am elated about him,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “He has natural great speed and he is long and tall with great range. He is so intelligent. He has played for two years and can anticipate what is coming. He gets the game, and he is physical in tackling. He has been great.”

Wilson was forced with a dilemma after last season. Having already completed his degree, he could have left OU. He thought about testing the NFL waters, but he was told one constant thing.

Film at nickelback wasn’t going to help his name be called. He had to move. To safety or cornerback, it really didn’t matter. He had to move somewhere.

In talking with the Stoops brothers, Wilson suggested cornerback. He had their blessing. Now he’s trying to make the most out of it.

“Corner was what I was recruited here to play so really getting back out there on the island, it’s fun out there,” Wilson said. “I feel like I’m going out there every day and making sure I don’t make the same mistakes.”

Nobody got to see Wilson in the spot in the spring as he recovered from shoulder surgery. Wilson looks back now and all he can do is shrug about the pain he played in last season with the shoulder.

The smile was back on his face at Big 12 media days and during the first couple of weeks of camp. With a healthy shoulder and a new outlook, everybody is starting to realize the cornerback competition might be over before it starts.

Wilson is playing his way into the role, just like he played his way into an OU offer after multiple performances at OU’s camp.

“That is what I loved about him,” Bob Stoops said. “He was jumping in every chance he got. He was cutting in line and jumping and competing at every opportunity. I remember that very well. I loved his attitude to compete.”

Nobody doubted his attitude, but there’s no doubt people questioned whether or not OU was wasting a scholarship on Wilson. The term “not an OU guy” was thrown around often when describing Wilson.

It was like that when the Class of 2010 was being finalized, and the criticism was still pretty loud a couple of years ago. Wilson has slowly but surely quieted all those critics.

“I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder,” Wilson said. “I remember that every time I step onto the field. When I got here, people said I was just going to play special teams. After I played special teams, they said I’d never play defense.

“After I played defense, they said I’d never be a starter. You know, I’ve heard it all. But it’s at a point now where I know the expectations I have for myself and the confidence I have in myself as a player. I just want to compete.”

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