DRAPER, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – When former BYU star quarterback Zach Wilson graduated from Corner Canyon High School in 2017, nobody could have imagined that Wilson would end up being one of the first two or three quarterbacks taken in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Wilson, coming off a spectacular season in which he finished 8th in the Heisman Trophy Award voring, declared for the draft last week.
Eric Kjar coached Wilson at Jordan High and at Corner Canyon, and he saw right away how good Wilson could be.
“Just the talent popped off for sure,” said Kjar, who has won three straight state titles with the Chargers. “At practice, you would see him do some pretty special things that you just don’t see everyday.”
NFL scouts rave about Wilson’s arm strength, his ability to make any throw from anywhere on the field. Kjar saw glimpses of that at Corner Canyon.
“Not like it is now, but it was strong,” he said. “For a high school kid, it was one of the strongest, if not the strongest, that I’ve worked with. He could make a lot of throws and have a lot of zip to it. It’s effortless. When you watch him throw, it doesn’t look like he’s throwing it super hard, and it just explodes out of his hand.”
Kjar credits the BYU coaches and Wilson’s dad for developing a near perfect throwing motion. But yet, Wilson still wasn’t highly recruited coming out of high school after a senior season in which he threw for 2,986 yards, 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He first committed to Boise State before changing his mind and enrolling at BYU.
“The recruiting stuff is so early now, I’m surprised that it did come as late as it did,” Kjar said. “He was kind of skinny, so I think schools wanted to see him gain some weight. So he gained a lot of weight in the off-season, and looked really good.”
After a fantastic freshman year at BYU, Wilson’s sophomore season was derailed by a thumb injury. Kjar said that was the main reason why Wilson wasn’t on the NFL radar coming into this season.
“When he broke his thumb, I couldn’t believe he came back as fast as he did just because he didn’t have a ton of strength in it,” Kjar said. “He probably got unfairly judged. But that’s what Zach is. Some of that stuff is the best part of what Zach is. He always wants to go out there and compete.”
Wilson threw for 3,692 yards, 33 touchdowns and just three interceptions in leading BYU to an 11-1 record this season.
Wilson has helped set the stage for other quarterbacks from Utah, like Corner Canyon’s Jaxson Dart, who just signed with USC.
“I think a lot of that was Jaxson’s ability, but some of that is Zach too,” Kjar said. “Zach’s success and coming from the same high school. Not even the same high school, but just the state of Utah. There’s great talent here.”
So, can a skinny kid from Draper have a long NFL career? Kjar says don’t bet against him.
“I think what sets Zach apart is his drive,” Kjar said. “He’s a football junkie, and he wants to continue to get better. I think that will drive him and take him a long way.”