Offensive tackle Wilson becomes first QU player ever to sign contract with NFL franchise
QUINCY — BJ Wilson was standing in the Charlotte Douglas International Airport when he received the phone call that made him part of Quincy University football history.
In the midst of so many people, the 6-foot-7, 320-pound Wilson tried his best not to make a scene.
“I’m in a crowded airport in a very public space and I have a smile creeping up on my face,” Wilson said. “I’m not trying to make a scene, but you could tell I’m breathing really hard and getting really excited. It just felt amazing.”
How could it not. The phone call confirmed Wilson, the Hawks’ decorated left tackle, was signing a free-agent contract with the Carolina Panthers, becoming the first QU football player to either be drafted or sign a contract with an NFL franchise.
“I was headed back home when I got that call,” said Wilson, a St. Louis native who played football and basketball at Saint Louis University High. “Again, that was amazing.”
Wilson was a first-team All-Great Lakes Valley Conference offensive lineman last fall when he helped the Hawks to a 4-7 record. He holds the QU program record for career starts with 45 and was a second-team All-GLVC selection in 2021.
A cavalcade of NFL scouts came through Quincy throughout the fall as Wilson was invited to participate in the 98th East-West Shrine Bowl. However, Wilson suffered a torn Achilles tendon late last fall and missed the season finale against William Jewell, the only game in his career he did not start.
By the time the NFL draft rolled around last month, Wilson was well on his way to recovery.
“They knew I had the injury and knew it was something that we could work past,” Wilson said.
Although he was not selected in the seven-round draft, Wilson remained confident an opportunity would arise and said the days after the draft weren’t overly stressful.
“Not too much was really in my hands,” Wilson said. “I have a really good agent (Derek Gilmore) and I just let him handle it. He made sure I was comfortable mentally the entire time. It really wasn’t a time of doubt where I thought this wasn’t going to happen anymore.”
The Panthers, who selected Alabama quarterback Bryce Young with the No. 1 overall pick, selected one offensive lineman among their five picks throughout the seven-round draft, taking North Carolina State guard Chandler Zavala in the fourth round.
The entire starting line is under contract through the 2024 season with three of the five having been drafted by the Panthers.
“The main thing was the fact they are so invested in their players and take so much pride in developing their players and making sure they end up being the best they can be,” Wilson said. “I had a really good conversation with the o-line coach and the GM and they made sure I knew that was a priority for them.”
Offensive line coach James Campen made Wilson feel like the best is yet to come.
“They are a developing team and they have a really good o-line coach who is really going to be able to help develop me,” Wilson said.
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