‘My heart is still pounding’
CASPER -- Logan Wilson's facial expressions didn't change much Friday night aside from the occasional yawn and the playful smile when petting his 3-year-old German Shepard, Soldier.
Planted directly in the middle of his father's couch on the east side of Casper, his eyes remained mostly glued to the large flat screen just a few feet in front of him. His girlfriend, Morgan, sat to his left. His mother, Carla, to his right. Younger sister, Peyton, tried to stay still in her seat.
A large cutout of him in his full Wyoming uniform even joined them behind the sofa.
Trevor Wilson, Logan's dad, couldn't hide his nerves.
He spent the second round of the NFL Draft chatting with family and friends and checking on the prime rib that left a mouth-watering scent lofting in the kitchen. He also passed out a tray of red and blue Jello shots. Anything to keep his mind off the moment.
Then, area code 513 appeared on Logan's phone.
With the first pick of the third round -- 65th overall -- the former Wyoming All-American was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals, joining No. 1 overall selection Joe Burrow in the Queen City.
Tears. Yeah, they started to flow on the right side of that couch. The left side soon followed.
Logan kept his head down, saying hello to his new head coach, Zac Taylor. Cheers erupted, echoing in the large living space with wood floors.
It was short lived.
Logan hung up.
Who's the team? Inquiring minds want to know.
He paused ... "Cincinnati."
There go those tears again.
The pick was still to come on television. In fact, it was two long, painful selections away. The handful of people in the living room tempered excitement. So did Logan.
NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, live virtually from his basement, uttered these words:
"The Cincinnati Bengals select -- Logan Wilson -- linebacker -- Wyoming"
"It's hard to explain," Wilson said of his emotions. "It's overwhelming. My heart is still pounding.
"I'm just excited they picked me."
Wearing a button down, tucked-in shirt littered with blue, pink and white flowers, Logan pumped his fist in the air and accepted hugs from all directions. There was one he wished he could have in person though.
Logan's grandmother, Sharri, didn't make the trip to Casper from her home in Belle Fouche, South Dakota. COVID-19 was just too real to take a chance. That didn't keep her off FaceTime.
"She's been to almost more of his games than I have," Trevor said of his 78-year-young mother. "She's my travel buddy. We are devastated she couldn't be here, but her goal is to watch him play in the NFL.
"I'm sure she is home crying right now."
Just minutes after the celebration calmed, Logan escaped to his room to conduct interviews with his new team and the Cincinnati media. His family, well, they checked their phones.
"I'm up to 127," Trevor laughed, showing the missed text messages.
Peyton's phone is blowing up, too. "I'm at 68. And I have 28 Snaps."
Bengals fans were already busy sending her friend requests. It's weird, she said, but knows it comes with the territory.
"How do they even know who I am?"
Oh, they know.
Carla was feeling the constant vibration of her cell, too. She was up to 50 unanswered texts.
Some people say they are speechless as a figure of speech. Not this mom. She took long pauses. Thought out her answers. Still, nothing.
"Oh my God," she said. "This means everything in the world."
Carla said she is realistic. It wasn't until Logan was a junior that she really considered a shot at the pros for her son. The father of Taven Bryan called her to talk about agents and the NFL process. Bryan, a fellow Natrona County alum, was taken 29th overall by the Jaguars in 2018.
It was in that moment she thought about a young Logan telling her that one day he would be in the NFL.
"I said, 'OK, honey,'" she laughed, rolling her eyes. "I told him to just make sure he had a back-up plan."
Now, the plan is Ohio. She joked that Logan better get a bigger house.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance," she said. "It still hasn't set in."
The champagne toasts began. And there come those Jello shots again. The room, surrounded in brown-and-gold balloons, sparkly streamers and even a red carpet, turned into a party. It was just getting started.
It's almost like this place wasn't filled with tension less than an hour ago.
"I don't do well with games or with this," Trevor smiled. "It's really hard to put into words. It's surreal. It's a dream come true for my son."
The man of the hour finally emerged from the back bedroom to a standing ovation. Soldier, sporting an orange and black bandanna, followed. Logan declined giving a speech -- He's hungry. His head is swimming. Everyone wants a piece of him. Just one more hug.
"Go Bengals!" Trevor yelled. "Wow, I've never said that before."
Logan stood in the back of the kitchen, took a deep breath and smiled.
What are the Bengals getting with this pick? A tough, physical three-down linebacker, he said.
We already knew that.
"So many emotions," he said with a smile. "I have always dreamed of playing in the NFL. The chances are so slim. I thought I did everything right and played my cards right."
Wait, one more question -- how many texts have you gotten?
"118," he laughed. "I need a second to breathe."