For Bills’ Wilson path to success has been well-traveled

George Wilson may quickly be turning into a household name among football circles but the Buffalo Bills starting safety in his eighth year in the National Football League, his first as a starter, hasn’t taken the most conventional path.

Born in Paducah, KY, a town of all of 25,000, Wilson starred in football, baseball, basketball and track.  He was an honorable mention All-American during his senior season at Paducah Tilman High School, tallying 81 catches for 1,723 yards and 24 touchdowns.  He was accepted to Arkansas on an academic scholarship and walked on the football team.  By his red-shirt sophomore season he was starting at Wide Receiver for the Razorbacks, breaking the record for receptions by a UA player in their first year with 40.  Wilson tallied 145 receptions for 2,158 yards and 16 TDs in four years at Arkansas.

When it was time to go to the next level interest in Wilson’s services were tempered.  Wilson went un-drafted, signing with the Detroit Lions as a free agent.  He didn’t stick and he got the call from the Buffalo Bills to join their practice squad on October 18, 2004.  Wilson toiled on the Bills practice squad for the next three seasons, being activated for only three games and not seeing any significant action.  In the 2007 off-season the Bills took a bold step and transitioned Wilson, a lifelong Wide Receiver, to the Safety position.  Wilson wore the change well and due to injury was inserting into the starting lineup for the first time in his career that season in a game against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football.  All he did that night was pick off Cowboys’ QB Tomy Romo and return it for a TD.  Wilson became entrenched as one of the team’s Special Teams Aces and a situational Safety.

Wilson’s hard work paid off in the 2008 pre-season when he was voted as one of the Special Teams captains by his teammates, an honor that was bestowed on him in each of the three ensuing seasons.  Wilson was a leader in the locker room and a guy who would play in a pinch when the defense needed him in the next few years.  It wasn’t until the Bills opted not to re-sign former first round draft pick before the 2011 season that Wilson finally got his chance to be a full-time starter.  Wilson has made the most of his opportunity.  He has played the game like one of the NFL’s elite safeties in the first five weeks of the 2011 season, topped off by an AFC Defensive Player of the Week performance this past Sunday against the Eagles.  In addition to that he has positioned himself as the heart of a tough Buffalo defense, as evidenced by his emotional post game speech on Sunday (

It may have taken him 8 years to get into that press room but the people of Buffalo are surely glad that he did.  And if Wilson can play as well as he did last weekend, a feat no doubt attainable with his attitude and work ethic, he may find his way to a game in Hawaii at the end of the year.  And perhaps more important to him, and no doubt his teammates, he’ll get a chance to play some meaning football for the fans of Buffalo in January, something that hasn’t been done in eleven years.

Twitter @ErikVenskus


About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

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