Dontre Wilson (Photo by the author)
Chip Kelly landed the next De'Anthony Thomas on Friday.
The on-again, off-again announcement from 2013 DeSoto (TX) all-purpose back Dontre Wilson has been on again for the last several days and it went down as originally planned on Friday evening at the Eagle spring game, as Wilson pledged to the Oregon Ducks in front of friends, family and fans.
When Wilson revealed his plans in late April, he had narrowed his list to Oregon and Texas, thus beginning a month that saw a Rivals report quoting Wilson saying that he was down to Oregon and Ohio State ($), which was later refuted, then had Wilson deciding to hold off on a decision, then declaring that he was also considering Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M, and finally deciding to stick with the intentions he declared back in April. Whew. Got all that?
A highly-coveted national prospect with 21 offers from around the country, including Arkansas, Arizona State, Clemson, LSU, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma, Wilson is a consensus four-star prospect widely considered one of the top athletes or all-purpose backs in the country, ranking second in the latter category by Rivals.
At 5-11 and a listed 180 pounds (he was listed at 160 pounds earlier in his prep career and has not noticeably added a substantial amount of bulk), Wilson doesn't have the prototypical build of a running back, but he's not a future slot receiver playing running back -- he has the vision and the feet to create extra yardage past what his offensive line and the defense allow.
Still, it's a major question mark whether he's a high-volume back in college. The same concerns followed LaMichael James out of Texas and into the Pacific Northwest, but despite his short stature, James still had a better build to handle more carries -- Wilson is built like a specialty back.
In any case, there's a lot to like about Wilson as a prospect. When evaluating skill position prospects like running backs, wide receivers, and return men in person, reputation and film study play a role in the ultimate takeaway, but there's also the element of gauging the crowd's reaction, both for and against the prospect in question, and measuring that difficult to quantify but easy to qualify sense of anticipation, that knowledge that every time the player touches the ball, they have a chance to score. And then seeing it happen.
Wilson has that quality, and it's the reason why it's virtually impossible to talk about his skillset without mentioning the word dynamic. Or electrifying. Both are apt. Experienced as a slot receiver in addition to his running back duties, Wilson compares favorably to current Duck De'Anthony Thomas and will play a similar role for Oregon.
Chip Kelly has a proven blueprint for how to take advantage of versatile skillsets like Wilson by getting his athletes the ball in space, and that was ultimately too much for the Texas athlete to pass up.
Dontre Wilson (early junior highlights) (via 247SportsStudio)