At 5-7, Warriors’ rookie Santonio Wilson is often one of the smallest men on the field. But that hasn’t stopped him from becoming one of the most important pieces of the Warrior offense in 2015.
“That Santonio Wilson is a little ball of dynamite. I love him,” Warriors coach Jamie Rice said. “That guy is amazing. He’s given the offense a spark this year, he’s given them an attitude.”
This season, Wilson has proved to be one of the Warriors’ top receiving threats. In nine games, he’s caught 18 balls for 381 yards, good enough for over 21 yards a catch. He’s also functioned as one of the team’s primary kickoff returners, averaging just under 30 yards a return.
As his numbers continue to pile up, Wilson is coming closer and closer to the Warriors’ franchise record for all-purpose yards in a rookie season, set last year by his lifelong friend, Jontez Jones. While Wilson has been keeping an eye on his numbers, it’s all secondary to Portsmouth’s ultimate goal.
“I’ve just been focusing on winning and trying to get a championship my first year,” Wilson said.
Wilson was born and bred in the south, splitting time between his grandma in Mississippi and his uncle in Lexington, Kentucky. He identifies Mississippi as his home, but says he spent a total of four years playing football and going to school in Kentucky.
As a freshman and sophomore in high school in Mississippi, Wilson played quarterback before transitioning to the defensive side of the ball for his junior season. Before his senior year, he moved back to Lexington and played cornerback for Lafayette High School.
With no college offers after his high school playing days, Wilson figured that his playing days were done. He moved back down south to attend East Mississippi Community College to study welding. But while he was there, Wilson caught the football bug and decided to try out for the school’s prestigious JUCO football program.
Although he only spent just one year at East Mississippi, Wilson realized that he still had the ability to play the game at a high level. That was only reinforced by watching Jones, his former grade school football teammate, tear up competition for the Warriors during his rookie season in 2014.
This season, Wilson has revived a once-dormant passing game and has given the Warriors an additional deep threat down the field. But more importantly, he’s given the entire offense a spark and a new attitude. Even when he doesn’t have the ball, he still goes 100 percent and inspires his teammates to do the same.
“He’s a little guy, and that dude loves to block more than he loves to score touchdowns,” Rice said.
Wilson may not be the biggest man on the field, but not many will doubt that he’s one of the Warriors’ hardest workers.
“I’m only 5-7, 165, but I bring a lot of energy and a lot of heart to the table,” he said.
Reach Alex Hider at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter