Every original story has that one “a-ha” moment, when undiscovered powers find the perfect time to show themselves.
For Cedrick Wilson, Boise State’s newest offensive weapon, it came on a hot June day two summers ago in southeastern Kansas.
A lanky 6-foot-3 quarterback, Wilson was working with the other passers at Coffeyville Community College, tossing to a half-dozen receivers gathered in front of offensive coordinator Angelo Mirando. The receivers started to get worn out, so Mirando asked Wilson to run a few routes.
“It was like, ‘Oh my God,’” Mirando said. “He caught everything, made a one-handed grab on a fade route, jumped over a kid in one-on-one drills. Just on the first day. After that, we went out every day wondering what crazy catch he was going to make.”
That is Wilson’s M.O.: Make an immediate, yet lasting impression.
After transferring to Boise State in January following two fruitful seasons at Coffeyville, Wilson established himself as a starting receiver in the spring. On Saturday, in his debut for the Broncos at Louisiana with about 30 friends and family on hand, he had six catches in the first quarter alone. He finished with seven for 113 yards and a touchdown.
Wilson’s first reception was a 28-yard grab on third down from sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien. His 42-yard touchdown was the Broncos’ first passing score of the year.
“Ced’s impressed us from Day 1,” Boise State co-offensive coordinator Zak Hill said. “His preparation, kind of like Brett is about the same. ... It’s not an easy offense to learn. He came in and figured things out.
“He helps our offense be more diverse.”
Sometimes, a number is just a number, but Wilson switched his jersey this summer from No. 80 to 1 without having played a game. That carries cachet at many programs, and Boise State is no different: Titus Young, Kyle Wilson and Shane Williams-Rhodes have worn it in recent years.
It wasn’t given to Wilson, as he earned it with his commitment and immense skillset. Considering he has only played receiver for two years, the scary thought is he’s still grasping the position. Wilson initially hoped to play quarterback and baseball at Coffeyville, but when he made the move to receiver, that was his sole focus.
“I think I was tired of throwing the baseball and the football. I wanted to catch it for once, but it was weird at first not getting the ball every play,” Wilson said. “If I hadn’t gone to junior college, I probably would’ve still been playing quarterback, so it was kind of a calling.”
Despite being an all-state quarterback at White Station High in Memphis, Tenn., Wilson did not have a Football Bowl Subdivision offer out of high school. He did not have a qualifying ACT score, to which Wilson said, “Testing was the hard part for me, but the grades were always there.”
It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
At Coffeyville, Wilson hauled in 120 passes for 1,674 yards and 28 touchdowns in 20 games.
“What he did that first game, I can’t say it was unexpected,” said Mirando, now in his first season as Eastern Kentucky’s offensive coordinator. “His pulse never rises. When he puts his mind to something, he goes and does it. He’s a very mature, very professional kid, absolutely not your typical JC guy.”
For the first time, Wilson was a hot commodity last winter, committing to Boise State in November before taking an official visit to Virginia Tech five days before signing with the Broncos. Mirando said Wilson was impressed with the Hokies, but it came down to three criteria — who had the better quarterback, where he’d catch the most passes and what offense fit him best.
The quarterback he chose to play with is plenty happy about Wilson’s decision.
“He’s a different animal, man. You can throw him a deep ball, and he’ll catch up to it. It seems like you can’t overthrow him,” Rypien said.
It’s part of his genetics, too.
Wilson’s father, Cedrick Sr., played seven NFL seasons from 2001-07, making 178 receptions and winning Super Bowl XL with the Steelers. Cedrick Jr. said one key piece of advice has taken him from Tennessee to Kansas to Idaho.
“He told me nothing is given to you; you have to take it. So that’s my mindset every day,” Wilson said.
During the offseason, Wilson also worked at punt returner, where he could make an appearance with his size and speed. Wilson said on offense, he approaches it with the idea, “That no one can really cover me.”
So far, so good.
“A lot of people are going to be asking, ‘How did we miss this guy?’” Mirando said. “It was a home run get for Boise State. You’d win every game with 11 Cedrick Wilsons.”
Live online chat Thursday
Have questions, comments or concerns about the Boise State football team and Saturday’s home opener against Washington State? Idaho Statesman beat reporter Dave Southorn, in his 12th season covering the Broncos, will answer your questions at 2 p.m. Visit IdahoStatesman.com to take part in the chat.
Washington State at Boise State
▪ When: 8:15 p.m. Saturday
▪ Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf), Boise
▪ TV: ESPN2 (Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore, Quint Kessenich)
▪ Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
▪ Records: Boise State 1-0 (0-0 Mountain West); Washington State 0-1 (0-0 Pac-12)
▪ Tickets: Boise State said fewer than 2,000 tickets remain, between season tickets, mini-plans and single-game tickets. Info: broncosports.com/tickets or 426-4737.
▪ Weather: Daytime high in the mid-80s, lows in the mid-50s with no chance of precipitation
▪ Vegas line: Boise State favored by 10 points
▪ Series: Washington State leads 4-0 (last meeting: won 41-20 in 2001 in Boise)