C.J. Wilson knew exactly what to expect from coach Tom O’Brien at N.C. State.
Like O’Brien, Wilson’s father – Curtis Sr. – served in the Marines.
“When we have chores around the house, when he says, ‘Do it,’ that means it needs to be done,” Wilson said. “Same thing here. When Coach O’Brien wants something done, it needs to be done right then and there. I’m used to it.”
Wilson is preparing for intense chores this week as the starting field cornerback as the Wolfpack plays host to South Carolina at 7:03 p.m. on Thursday in the season opener.
Junior DeAndre Morgan is a returning starter, but Wilson was listed as a surprise starter for the game. O’Brien wouldn’t comment when asked if Morgan is injured, and praised Wilson.
O’Brien said Wilson has done “a tremendous job” in fall camp and benefited from playing during spring practice when Wilson was sitting out with a hamstring injury.
“That gave some of those younger guys (a chance), and once again it was a blessing,” O’Brien said. “They got to play a little more, and their development speeded up. He’s done extremely well in the scrimmages, and he’s put himself in position to see what he can do on Thursday night.”
Just getting in position to be offered a scholarship by N.C. State was a big accomplishment for Wilson. He set Lincoln County High career records for total yards (5,919), rushing yards (3,941) and scoring (468 points).
But he didn’t attract much attention from recruiters because he did it at a small (Class 2A) school. Maryland was the only Football Bowl Subdivision school that offered him an early scholarship, and he said that offer was withdrawn because he was judged to be too small.
He believes he got N.C. State’s attention when he played in the state championship game in 2007 at Carter-Finley Stadium. He was named the game’s most valuable player after rushing for two touchdowns in a 28-14 defeat of South Columbus.
“I believe it helped out a lot,” Wilson said. “I believe (N.C. State’s coaches) had an idea of who I was, but being that they had the opportunity to see me play in person, that helped out a lot.”
Wilson knows that as a redshirt freshman making his first start, he’s likely to be challenged by South Carolina in the passing game. So is boundary cornerback Koyal George, a former walk-on.
But Wilson sounds confident in the military discipline from his coach – and his father – that’s gotten him this far.
“Most definitely they’re going to throw the ball against us,” Wilson said. “They are probably going to come, they are going to shoot at us first, but thanks to coaching and the game plan, we’re ready.”