Zach Wilson college timeline: How BYU QB went from barely scouted to undoubted in 2021 NFL Draft

Zach Wilson 

The BYU quarterback exploded in 2020 for 33 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions, adding another 10 touchdowns on the ground, building his resume from first-round talent to QB2 in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Whether it was by his dazzling schoolyard-ball type play or his babyfaced assassin looks, Wilson’s meteoric rise up NFL draft big boards has planted him firmly in the conversation for the No. 2 overall pick this year. 

MORE: Ranking the top 10 QBs in the 2021 NFL Draft

The scouting reports all read the same about Wilson: Cannon arm, accurate, ability to improvise and make off-platform throws, good processor but questions about his build, competition played against, leadership and overall athleticism crept in. 

Needless to say, analysts, evaluators and others love Wilson’s game; They love it so much that he equaled Justin Fields as the consensus QB2 in the draft, with some even believing he’s the de facto QB1 in the draft. We can probably pump the brakes on that.

Before Wilson hears his name called on the big stage in Cleveland, here’s how he got there: 

Zach Wilson timeline

June 12, 2017: Wilson, a standout quarterback of Corner Canyon High School in Draper, Utah, verbally commits to Boise State. Wilson plans to graduate high school early to get a jump on his college career. 

Oct. 2017: Even with a commitment to BYU, Wilson receives offers from other schools, including Cal, Minnesota, Utah State and Iowa. Not exactly a who’s-who of college football powerhouse programs.

Dec. 13, 2017: After an official visit with the school, Wilson decides against enrollment at Boise State, and instead entertains offers from other schools. 

Dec. 21, 2017: Wilson commits and signs a letter of intent with BYU during the early signing period.

Aug. 9, 2018: Wilson gets his first action as Cougars quarterback, attempting two passes and completing one vs. McNeese State. 

Oct. 13, 2018: Wilson gets his first start as BYU quarterback vs. Hawaii. He goes 16-of-24 passing for 194 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in the victory. He becomes the youngest starting quarterback in BYU history.

Oct. 27, 2018: In a game vs. Northern Illinois State, Wilson makes the SportsCenter top 10 after evading a defender, hurdling another and stiff-arming a third. The hurdle-stiff-arm combination will be played ad infitum over the coming years.

Dec. 21, 2018: A year to the day that Wilson commits to BYU, he goes a perfect 18-for-18 passing in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (yes, that’s a real bowl), mashing Western Michigan. He notches 317 yards and four touchdowns in the effort. He finishes his go as BYU quarterback with 12 touchdowns to three interceptions, 1,578 yards over nine games. 

Aug. 29, 2019: During BYU’s media day, Wilson admits that he had been playing with a labrum issue in his throwing shoulder since high school, and had it surgically repaired in December. Wilson also says he has a labrum tear in his non-throwing shoulder that will eventually require surgery.

Sept. 28, 2019: In a matchup vs. Toledo, Wilson throws an interception and in the process of making the tackle on the defender, fractures the thumb on his throwing hand. He has surgery during the week to have it fixed, and misses over a month.

Dec. 24, 2019: Not quite the Christmas gift Wilson was likely hoping for: In a Hawaii Bowl loss to Hawaii, Wilson throws two interceptions in the season finale. He battled labrum recovery and the thumb injury during the year, finishing his 2019 season with 2,382 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Wilson was, though, named BYU MVP for the season.

Aug. 31, 2020: After some doubts to whether or not Wilson would be named starter for his junior season at BYU, he’s listed as QB1 on the team’s depth chart ahead of the season opener vs. Navy. 

Oct. 16, 2020: Wilson has perhaps the best game of his BYU career, throwing 400 yards and four touchdowns vs. Houston. He goes 25-of-35 passing on the day. 

Dec. 22, 2020: In his final game as a BYU Cougar, “Zach the Ripper” shreds UCF in the Boca Raton Bowl, throwing three touchdowns on the day for 425 yards, adding another two scores on the ground. He finishes the 2020 season with 33 touchdowns to three interceptions and another 10 rushing touchdowns. Wilson earns the single highest season passing Pro Football Focus grade.

Jan. 1, 2021: To ring in the new year, Wilson announces a new era: He declares for the 2021 NFL Draft on Twitter. 

March 27, 2021: At BYU’s pro day, Wilson puts on a show. Jaws drop when he nails a rollout post-route bomb that sails for over 50 yards.

April 29, 2021: With the second pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the New York Jets select… 

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