For the majority of spring practice, De’Runnya Wilson was limited, half-speed and rarely heard from. Other receivers, young and old, got the attention as fifth-year senior quarterback Dak Prescott led what looks to be a high-flying offense throughout the spring.
Then, at the exact last moment possible, Wilson reminded everyone why they were wrong to ever forget about him, or at least to not be talking about him. It was only a spring game, but on Scott Field, the rising junior receiver showed again why he’s considered one of the best in the country, why he hauled in catch-after-catch and broke tackle-after-tackle during Mississippi State’s run to the top of the college football world in 2014.
With five catches for 92 yards and a score Saturday, De’Runnya Wilson broke back out, one last show before his third season starts in September.
Bear, as teammates call him, had been limited through the spring due to minor injuries, but a talk with Prescott, combined with health, spurred him to finish strong.
“I told him to come out here running and let’s get our game speed going,” Prescott said. “I told him we wouldn’t have this chance again so we had to make sure we pick it up.”
Said Wilson, “Dak Prescott is only going to make me a better person on and off the field.”
It can be a little odd to think of Wilson as a player still trying to get better. After all, as just a true sophomore last year, he led the team by a longshot in every major receiving category, catching 47 passes for 680 yards and nine touchdowns, despite being limited for a significant portion of the season.
Most impressive were his numbers in big games against MSU’s toughest opponents. Wilson racked up a total of 548 yards combined in six games against LSU, Auburn, Texas A&M, Alabama, Ole Miss and Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl, including six touchdowns.
Just last week, the Sporting News named him the fourth-best receiver in the country.
“I didn’t know that,” Wilson said when asked about it after the spring game. “But it’s a blessing, I can say that.”
However, despite all his success and recognition, he’s only entering his fourth year of even playing football, having just started in high school as a senior. It can only be assumed, he believes, that he’ll get better by significant amounts as each year goes by.
A big part of that, Wilson told reporters, is receivers coach Billy Gonzales. For a player as young as Wilson, in terms of football knowledge and training, having a longtime instructor and developer of talent like Gonzales has been invaluable.
“Coach Gonzales is going to bring the best out in you,” Wilson said. “He recruits you to come play SEC football and you’ve gotta live up to that hype.”
Surely, training with Gonzales, getting extra work in with Prescott and spending time in the weight room will help Wilson’s game going into 2015. However, the same reason those around the team stopped talking about him all spring could be the exact cause for him to have an even bigger year this fall.
The talent at receiver, anyone on the team will concede, is as strong as it’s ever been under Mullen. Listing the potential playmakers, one might as well copy-and-paste the receivers portion of the roster. Some are tall, some are fast, some are strong and some are all of the above.
The benefit for Wilson is that opposing defenses can’t just focus on him. Plus, he’s still an athlete. Teammates or not, he’s competitive and wants to be the best person on the field.
Add to that depth an experienced senior quarterback who will likely be in the Heisman race, as well as a re-tooled offensive line and new running backs, and it would appear the Bulldogs will be throwing the ball a lot in 2015.
If today’s spring game was any indication, De’Runnya Wilson will be the star of the show.