Wilson Gives Insight into BYU Trip

Richard Wilson

BYU hosted many top LDS athletes from across the country this past weekend in an effort to secure some of the best talent in the nation. Top tight end prospect Richard Wilson, who will be heading down to L.A. in February as a finalist for the Franklin D. Watkins award, gave his thoughts and feelings about how the trip went for the recruits.

It was a star-studded group that would make any coach from any college program salivate. This past weekend, BYU hosted - among others - a group of LDS athletes considered some of the best at their respective positions in the country, and from all accounts the group of like-minded athletes had a great time together.

"In my group it was me, Xavier [Su'afilo], Manti [Te'o], [Brett] Thompson and Levi Te'o, Kyle Van Voy and Jray [Galea'i]," said tight end commit Richard Wilson. "It was really fun and we got to do a lot of fun stuff. There was a lot of food and we got to see a lot of the academic side of BYU that you don't get to see during Junior Day. We were introduced to the dean of students, and they went over the honor code and things like that. It was a good group and we got a chance to hang out together and really bond with one another. I think the coaches knew we would get along really well. Manti mentioned a few times it was like we were all already really close and like roommates because we all got along so well. It was a lot of fun and everyone was really comfortable and seemed a lot alike."

Wilson was impressed with how personal and approachable the nation's top linebacker recruit was.

"I met Manti the first day at the hotel and he's a really nice kid," Wilson said. "He's fun to be around and a really nice guy. I asked him about what his thoughts of BYU were and I'm sure he gets that quite a lot, so I didn't want to put too much pressure on him. He said he saw how everyone here are all were really comfortable being around one another. I think he saw how comfortable he would be if he came here to BYU, especially with his family being here."

With Timpview High School running back Levi Te'o receiving a preferred walk-on status from BYU coaches, and Shiloah and Malosi Te'o already within the Cougar program, it was a long awaited reunion for the Te'o cousins who are more like brothers. Manti was able to catch up with and spend a lot of time with his family on the mainland.

"Shiloah and Manti were Manti's host and they were always together," Wilson said. "They all hung around and you can tell they are all very close and were happy to be together. They're all just a bunch of great guys and Manti seemed really comfortable being here and was having a good time. It was cool also to have Levi there, and you can tell it was just an all-around good experience for them as a family."

The star-studded group of recruits, in addition to getting to know each other, also had the opportunity to get to know BYU coaches and current players.

"We went to Tecano's and had dinner together, and that was really cool," said Wilson. "We also had a talk with Coach Mendenhall and he talked to us about what was going on with BYU and the program. We got a chance to be with our hosts and go around BYU and stuff like that. My host was Jan Jorgensen and he's a fun guy to be around. He's pretty funny. On the second night my host was Matt Reynolds. He's big man! He's also a lot of fun to be around and we went over to his house and played some Rock Band. It was a lot of fun."

When visiting BYU on an official visit, one can expect to head off into the snowy Wasatch Mountains for some fun on the famous snowmobiling excursion for recruits. Wilson, along with the other local recruits, could see how some within the group weren't quite as familiar with the powdery stuff.

"It was funny because some of the island guys had never ridden a snowmobile before," Wilson laughed. "Manti kept calling it a jet ski and we all thought that was pretty funny. We all got a kick out of him calling his snowmobile a jet ski. It was funny because me and Jrey were cracking up. We all had a lot of fun out there together."

So what are Wilson's feelings concerning BYU's chances of landing Manti?

"I really think there is a great chance that he could choose BYU," Wilson said. "I think he knows that BYU is a good fit for him and that he would feel comfortable being away from home and at a place that's already kind of like home for him. You could tell he fit right in with everyone and I think he knows that as well. I talked to Jrey and he was trying to get Manti to come to BYU. He was making comments to him and Manti was smiling. Coach Doman and Jrey were joking around and saying, 'Yeah, all we need is someone to fill that Mike linebacker position on our defense.' Manti was just smiling and things like that, so Jrey was trying to get him to come over to BYU."

Wilson also had a chance to hang out with Bingham High School linebacker L.T. Filiaga. The two are already well acquainted with each other through the recruiting process. Like with Manti, Wilson was optimistic about BYU's chances with Filiaga as well.

"I think BYU has a great shot of getting L.T.," Wilson said. "I really do. Me and L.T. know each other from way back and going to camps together. He hung out a lot with Tui Crichton, and I'm sure they had a lot of time to talk about things. I think he was trying to do some recruiting to BYU, kind of like me. L.T. is just a great kid and we all had a really good time together."

While on campus, Wilson and California wide receiver Brett Thompson had a chance to sit with BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae, who gave the two a bit of early advice.

"[Anae] told us that we need to come into fall camp expecting to play right away," said Wilson. "He said some of the young players don't have the mindset to come right in and play, so he wanted us to be sure we had that mindset. We also studied a little film with him and studied defenses. It was pretty cool to do that."

While at the dorms, Wilson roomed with his good friend Xavier Su'afilo. The two got a chance to spend some time together while at BYU and talk about the future.

"[Su'afilo] said it was the most enjoyable visit he's been on," said Wilson. "He's been to LSU, Utah and took an unofficial to Miami, but he still has UCLA next week, which is his final visit. I think he felt really comfortable and has a great relationship with the BYU coaches. He said he's going to go on his UCLA trip and then probably make a decision sometime after that. We got a chance to talk about his career and future and he feels there are pros and cons to every school. When it comes to Xavier, I don't think it will come down to playing time. I think he knows he'll get a chance to play right away no matter where he goes. I also think the deciding factor will be a gut feeling. He's being recruited by so many schools, but when it comes down to what's most important, you learn more and more through the process and put things into perspective. For example, like when he went down to Miami, sure he's always liked Miami and that was where he wanted to go, but when it really came down to seeing how you fit in among other things, reality kind of hits you. I think he'll be doing a lot of praying and thinking about things before he makes a final decision, but I also think he sees how he fits in down at BYU as well and how comfortable he'll be while here with us."

Wilson felt the trip was a big success for the high profile group of Cougar recruits.

"I think the trip was overall a very positive experience for everyone," said Wilson. "I think everyone had a really good time and think BYU has a very good chance of getting everyone that was there. I think it will really come down to everyone's personal reasons after they've thought about things, but the trip really allowed everyone to get a better feel for what to expect while at BYU, which is a good thing. It was a really good trip."

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