Growing up in Prince George’s County, Josh Wilson learned early in life that if he were to cheer for a football team, there was only one correct choice.
RFK Stadium was a short distance away, and in Wilson’s house, the Washington Redskins reigned supreme.
“I had a couple family members that rooted for the bad guys, but my family really didn’t leave me a lot of choices,” said Wilson, who went on to star for DeMatha High School and the University of Maryland before he was drafted in the second round by Seattle in 2007. “I had the Mark Rypien jersey, the little plastic helmet, would run into the couch couple times. I was a Barry Sanders fan. I was allowed to choose one player, but not the team, otherwise I would’ve had to watch the game from outside.”
Wilson’s childhood dream became a reality last week when he signed a three-year, $13.5 million deal with the Redskins. He is slated to start at cornerback opposite DeAngelo Hall this season.
“I always count my blessings and thank God for letting me be in the NFL,” says Wilson, who last season played for the Baltimore Ravens, and then jumped at the opportunity to play even closer to home. “So many guys that I grew up with didn’t have this opportunity...And to be even more blessed by playing for the team that the stadium was closer to get to than my high school, I must be doing something right. Somebody’s praying for me right now, and I appreciate it.”
In addition to good speed and coverage skills, Wilson also offers the Redskins versatility. He is capable of playing in the slot and on the outside, and during his days in Seattle, he also saw time as a return man.
“I watched Josh and he was one of those guys I kept watching on film,” said Redskins coach Mike Shanahan. “He’s played all different coverages: two deep, man, quarters, inside, outside and bump coverage against guys like Andre Johnson and had no fear. I said if we had an opportunity to land this guy, I’d like to land him because he’s a fierce competitor. He’s gone against some excellent wide receivers and never backed down a bit.”
Wilson said he feels comfortable regardless of what coverage he is asked to play. And although the subject of returning kicks or punts hasn’t been brought up since he signed with Washington, he is willing to do so if needed.
“I’m just trying to help this team,” Wilson said. “Whatever this team needs. I know one thing, I’m out here to play corner first of all. You need me to play corner, I’ll play corner. You need me to kick field goals, yeah, I can do that, too. Play a little quarterback, wide receiver? I’ll do that. I’ll go back to my Boys & Girls Club days back in P.G. County, where I did everything. Whatever it takes for us to win.”