Wilson won the bet with a 3.0 GPA for the fourth quarter, he said, the highest grade-point average he had ever earned.
But in reality, he had a long way to go. It helped make him eligible to play last fall, his fourth year of high school. But he didn’t graduate last spring, and had to apply for a fifth-year waiver with the Einstein administration.
(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post) - Einstein running back Khalil Wilson, in his fifth year of high school, practices with his team in the school's gym. Wilson, one of the area’s leading rushers, is only in his second year with the football team after gaining academic eligibility before the 2012 season.
Wilson was granted the waiver based on an “extraordinary circumstance,” said Nathaniel Collins, the school’s assistant principal.
He was allowed to play another season after entering what Wilson calls a “contract” with school administrators, which required he meet certain academic standards throughout the year. The extraordinary circumstance, Wilson said, revolves around an Attention Deficit Disorder diagnosis when he was in middle school.
“I do take upon myself to not use it as an excuse,” Wilson said. “I’m a normal kid.”
If there are no excuses in the classroom, then there are no excuses on the field, either. On an afternoon earlier this month, Wilson was forced to practice inside the gym with his teammates. While Coach Jermaine Howell shouted instructions during the non-contact session, he also told the group to expect nine defenders near the line of scrimmage in an upcoming game against Kennedy. Wilson listened quietly. Nine defenders trying to stop him? No problem. He was the only one not practicing with a helmet, which was in the equipment room getting operated on after it was damaged due to his bruising running style.
“Football really drives him right now,” Collins said. “It keeps him eligible to play sports and stay on track to graduate.”
For a player with his ability, Wilson has had very little college interest. He’s eying a few junior colleges, he said, places where he can continue to develop on and off the field and possibly earn a scholarship at a bigger school after two years.
One of the schools Wilson is interested in is Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pa., where he visited earlier this year. It’s a small school in a quiet town, which could be perfect for him. On Lackawanna’s online brochure, the school’s motto is “Find Your Future.”
“Now, I definitely see college in my future,” Wilson said. “Not only because of football, but just education itself is very important.”