TUCKER: Logan Wilson embodies Code of the West
CASPER -- Humble.
Those are just a few words that describe Logan Wilson. Wyoming's three-time captain and All-American linebacker is also strong. Blue-collar. Smart.
In fact, a new descriptor came tonight -- NFL Draft pick. Wilson was selected 65th overall -- first in the third round -- by the Cincinnati Bengals.
When I go into stories like the one that unfolded on Eighth Street in east Casper, I ask myself one question -- Who is my subject? How do I describe him best? What is important?
When it comes to Wilson, it's not complicated.
He's a coach's dream. The player who does everything right, works hard and obsessively prepares. Fellow senior Raghib Ismail Jr. said he hated practicing against Wilson. Why? Because the Natrona County product knew the offense's plays better than they did. He was always Johnny on the spot.
The same can be said when the stadium lights come on. Wilson racked up 409 tackles and 10 interceptions in his highlight-filled career in Laramie. He is the iron horse of Cowboy football, playing in 50 consecutive games.
On a fall Saturday in Laramie, just one thing was certain -- No. 30 was in the lineup.
As I started jotting down thoughts, a familiar code began to emerge.
The Code of the West.
Live each day with courage
Playing in 50 straight collegiate football games could take care of this subject on its own, but Wilson is deeper than that. He had the courage to always be himself. He was open about his faith and practiced what he preached. Wilson was the big man on campus, but you never would've know it.
Take pride in your work
We all saw Wilson's work on Saturdays. That speaks for itself. What we didn't see is the academic side, where Wilson — to the surprise of no one — excelled. If this whole football thing doesn't work out, that degree in kinesiology and health promotion will come in handy, he said. You also didn't see how he shared his testimony with area youth. The large cross tattoo on his right arm sums it all up. So does the eye black he wears under his helmet.
Finish what you start
It was almost laughable. In fact, I think head coach Craig Bohl even cracked a smile. Wilson was asked before the Arizona Bowl last December whether he would play in the game or sit out to preserve his body, and ultimately, his draft stock. His perplexed eye brows told that tale. Of course he was playing. It was never a question in his mind.
Be tough, but fair
There was zero doubt who the leader of the Cowboy defense was last fall. Wilson didn't have the most tackles or sacks, but he was the steady force on that side of the ball. Alijah Halliburton described Wilson as a guy no one wanted to let down. He didn't have to verbalize it — we will get to that in a minute — but the defense, as a whole, felt that responsibility. Extra film work, effort and more reps in the weight room were demanded.
Talk less, say more
If this ethic doesn't scream Wilson what does? Wilson never sought out the spotlight. Aside from making plays all over the field, he doesn't particularly like drawing attention to himself. He was the perfect representative for the program. Week after week, Bohl would send him to the podium to speak with the media. And week after week, Wilson said the equivalent of nothing. Aside from his now infamous "It sucks to be a CSU Ram" remark after winning his fourth straight Border War, Wilson let his play make headlines, not his mouth.
Do what needs to be done
Wilson came to Wyoming a 180-pound safety. Bohl and Co. envisioned him playing linebacker. No sweat. The transition was seamless from the naked eye. Behind the scenes, Wilson was busy putting on 60 pounds of muscle, while also keeping his trademark speed and hands. Wilson just wanted to be a Cowboy. It didn't matter where he was slated to play.
When you make a promise, keep it
Wilson told the media weekly that he needed to improve. Yes, it sounded like coach speak. Nine times out of 10, it's just that. He told his mother, Carla, when he was a kid that he was going to be in the NFL one day. She encouraged him to keep dreaming, but keep his eyes on the present. Friday night, Wilson kept that promise he made to her long ago.
Remember that some things aren't for sale
This is where Wilson's morals come in to play again. Some things aren't for sale — like being true to himself. Wilson could've lived it up in college. Hell, I think most of us did, especially in Wyoming. Luckily for fans, his high was winning football games. His rush was gluing himself to a tight end. His party came in victorious post-game locker rooms.
Know where to draw the line
Wilson had few offers out of high school. He knew where he wanted to go, but that offer didn't come right away. Harvard liked him. Weber State loved him. Like he did for a couple of hours Friday night, he simply waited for that call. It eventually came. It was Wyoming. For him, a no-brainer. Would he have blown off those other opportunities? No. But he waited out for his home school. It all paid off in the end, huh?
Ride for the brand
It can take years to realize what you had. That is not the case with Wilson. He will go down as one of the most decorated players in UW history. He is also beloved. From the Wyoming state flag headband to the relentless effort, he is one of your own. A Wyoming boy done right. It's not lost on Wilson that he has an entire state behind him tonight — and forever. He sees it every day when it comes to his former teammate, Josh Allen. Once a Cowboy, always a Cowboy, as Mitch Donahue likes to say. Arguably no one in program history rode for the brand the way Wilson did.
The only thing left to question is, how much is a flight to Cincy?
"I will always be Wyoming proud," he said Friday night. "I will always be a Wyoming boy at heart."