Stanford 2018 wide receiver commit Michael Wilson attended Stanford’s June 20 camp even though he didn’t have to prove anything to the Cardinal coaches.
But that isn’t how the Chaminade High receiver viewed the experience. He said several months ago when he committed to Stanford that he viewed camping on The Farm as opportunity to validate the trust of the coaches. He was only able to stay half the day because he and his family had to drive back to Southern California so he could keep his commitment as a youth football coach.
“It was nice,” he said. “This time my mom came and she got to meet Coach (David) Shaw, Coach (Tavita) Pritchard and got to meet almost everyone.”
And when the camp started there was something that Wilson noticed, people knew who he was and there was an expectation that came with that recognition: “I could tell everyone knew that I was the receiver committed (to Stanford). It was cool. Coach Pritchard coached me up on some new concepts. I learned some new routes because a lot of stuff they do is different.”
The camp was not the first example of being held to a new standard because of his verbal pledge to attend Stanford. His friends who knew he badly wanted the offer from the Cardinal now joke good-naturedly with him if he doesn’t know the answer to a question.
“You have to hold yourself to who you are now that people know I’m a Stanford commit,” he said. “I love it. I wouldn’t want to be committed anywhere else.”
Wilson’s relationship with the coaches is improving. Running backs coach Ron Gould recruits his area and they talk about every other week.
“The phone calls are about 30 minutes each,” Wilson said. “We talk about daily life and things that are going on. Football doesn’t really come up as much as just having a normal conversation with a friend. We’re going to know each. I talk to him about his past as a player and a coach.”
He had his first phone conversation with Shaw a couple weeks ago. They talked about the NBA Finals, life at Stanford and how Shaw thinks the Cardinal will do this season: “All that good stuff.”
And did the somewhat contentious NBA finals matchup divide coach and recruit?
“We came down to this,” Wilson laughed as he explained the conversation. “I’m a huge Lebron James supporter. I’m never going to go against Lebron. He wanted the Warriors but he respects Lebron James’ game. He wants Lebron to do well but he’s a Warriors fan and wanted them to win. I wanted Lebron to get his fourth ring.”
Wilson hopes that in a year he will be on Stanford’s campus helping the Cardinal win rings of their own. He has been working hard this offseason but on his own terms.
Wilson is not one to work the camp circuit. Stanford’s camp was the only major recruit showcase event that he has attended this year. His Rivals rating has steadily dropped closer to being out of the top 250 as other prospects excel at camps. But if last year repeats itself then Wilson will climb back up the top 250 when the football season starts.
The Eagles open against Oaks Christian and there are plenty of marquee matchups on the schedule.
“I’ve been preparing this since the beginning of the year,” he said. “I’m ready. I’ve worked a lot on my speed, agility, my hands and my strength has gone up tremendously. I’m fine tuning a lot. I’ve also grown mentally as a player. I can’t wait for the season.”
For the most part Wilson can focus on football. He hasn’t completely put recruiting behind him because: “Until I sign that paper, that is still going to be in the back of my mind. I think I have less pressure to deal with because I’m committed. That anxiety isn’t going to go away until I sign. It’s still lingering.”
But Wilson has perspective on the process that can be described as healthy and humble.
“It’s crazy thinking back,” he said. “At this time a year ago I had no offers. I never thought I’d be sitting where I am today. Every day it stays in the back of my mind because I’m pretty sure there are a lot of guys out there who are just as good as me but didn’t have the same opportunities to be where I am right now. It just shows that I’m in a good place and I’m one of the more fortunate ones.”