FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (ABC4 Sports) – It all happened when former BYU quarterback Zach Wilson took some 11 teammates on a team-bonding vacation to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho a few weeks ago.
“We had an awesome spot,” Wilson said. “It was great for us. We went golfing one day, we went boating the next. I taught those guys how to wake surf a little bit. More than anything, it was a good bonding moment for us. Just kind of sit by the fire and talk. It was a really cool trip and we definitely had a blast together.”
But that’s when Wilson was involuntarily thrown in the center of a national social media firestorm.
Former BYU wide receiver, and Wilson’s best friend Dax Milne, posted a picture on Instagram that he was in a relationship with Wilson’s high school sweetheart. After receiving backlash online, she then accused Wilson of cheating on her with one of Wilson’s mom’s best friends. It all turned into a tabloid circus. When he returned from Idaho, Wilson comically responded on Instagram, “Poor cell service. What I miss?”
But as the New York Jets opened training camp Tuesday, Wilson said he’s not worried about it. He is solely thinking about football.
“Right, it’s just about focusing on football,” he said. “That’s really all I can do. It is what it is. I’m excited to be here with the boys. It comes with the position. It’s really just handling my business, handling what matters, keeping my family tight. We’re all good, so I’m excited to be here and really just focus on football.”
After a tough rookie season, in which he threw for 2,334 yards, 9 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, Wilson has bulked up in the off-season to 218 pounds. He says he feels a lot more comfortable entering his second season with the Jets, who are looking to improve on its 3-13 record in 2021.
“I think you’re just relaxed and you have a better understanding of your job,” said Wilson, the second overall pick out of BYU in the 2021 NFL Draft. “Even when you make a mistake, I can correct myself now I feel, for the most part. I think that’s a good thing because you can just keep improving and getting better. Today was day one and there’s still things I can go back and improve on and do better. So it’s not stressing so much about the season coming up and the expectations. It’s how can I just keep improving day by day and trusting in the guys around me, and get them the football.”
With a full season under his belt, Wilson says it has been easier to become a true leader on the team, despite being one of the younger players.
“I really think it is because I know all these guys a lot better now,” Wilson said. “It’s hard to just walk into a locker room and start yelling at guys. I’m not doing that anyways. I think coaches yell enough, so I think players need to be there to encourage each other and bring them up. So, it’s easier when you really get to know them.”