Fittingly, Wilson is a bear to bring down

Son of Chicago linebacker, he runs wild for West Va.

College Football

December 31, 2003|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Quincy Wilson knows the question is coming. He starts to smile before the words are even out of your mouth. As the son of former Chicago Bears linebacker Otis Wilson, people have been asking it for years.

Quincy, do you know all the words to the "Super Bowl Shuffle"?

"I know that thing backward and forward," said Wilson, West Virginia's senior running back. "I've always had to sing it. When I got to high school, for hazing, we had to perform little acts and I had to sing it. Then my first year when I got to [West Virginia], I had to sing it. It helps knowing the words. It's a good song."

He's quick to point out, however, that the dancing in the Bears' famous trash-talking, pre-Super Bowl music video (much of which was choreographed by his father) leaves a lot to be desired. Wilson won't knock the lyrics, though. Especially not his father's famous line: I'm a mamma's boy Otis, one of a kind. All the ladies love me for my body and my mind.

"He says he always had the smoothest part," Wilson said. "I have to give him credit for that. ... My dad still has his gold record. That's his pride and joy."

This year, Otis Wilson's son has certainly been the pride and joy of Morgantown, W.Va. In his first year as a starter, Quincy Wilson has been one of the most exciting players in college football, rushing for 1,331 yards and 12 touchdowns. His 33-yard catch and run in a 22-20 loss to then-No. 2 Miami Oct. 2 just might be the most exciting highlight of the year.

On the play, Wilson caught a screen pass in the flat, dodged several Hurricanes defenders, then lowered his shoulder at the Miami 16-yard line and ran over defensive back Brandon Meriweather like a runaway milk truck. Wilson then hurdled Meriweather's fallen body to slip into the end zone, which gave the Mountaineers a 20-19 lead with two minutes to play.

"I was thinking it was third down, and I'm just trying to get the first down," Wilson said. "I catch the ball out in the flat and I see [a defender] in front of me and I'm thinking, `This play ain't going nowhere.' But I dodged him and the rest of my blocks were all set up. The last guy, it's just a natural instinct for me the way I run to try to run somebody over. I never envisioned him repelling off me like that. Once he did that, I just leaped over him and scored."

It was the kind of jaw-dropping play people expected to see from Wilson when he signed with the Mountaineers after rushing for 6,161 yards and scoring 90 touchdowns at Weir High School in Weirton, which is about 75 miles from Morgantown. But as talented as Wilson was, until this year, he found himself stuck behind Avon Cobourne, who finished his career at West Virginia as the Big East's all-time leading rusher with 5,039 yards.

"I thought he'd have a great year," coach Rich Rodriguez said of Wilson. "He had 900 yards last year as a backup, so we thought he could do that. I think what he's done in the last half of the season is make himself very valuable in NFL eyes. We've told them all along that this is a guy to look at, but they didn't get a chance to see him as much as the guy. They're getting to see that this year."

Though Maryland held Wilson to a season-low 71 yards the first meeting between the two teams, he's been at his best in all of West Virginia's other big games. Against Virginia Tech, Wilson ran for 178 yards in a 28-7 victory, and then against Pittsburgh he rushed for 208 yards and scored four touchdowns in a 52-31 win.

"He's extremely strong, one of the strongest guys on the team," Rodriguez said. "He doesn't have a lot of wasted motion. ... Quincy's very competitive, too. He's a great young man, as good as you can get, but underneath that he's a dang competitor. When it's on the line, he wants the ball in his hands."

Being the son of an NFL player has been both a blessing and a burden at times. Wilson doesn't mind the football comparisons, and these days he's more than happy to drop a few lines from the "Super Bowl Shuffle" when asked. But growing up, it wasn't always that way.

"I had to hear a lot of stuff like, `Hey your dad's on Tecmo Bowl,' or `He's all-Madden,'" Wilson said. "Those things would bother me sometimes. ... I just learned to live with it. Usually it's a good thing instead of a bad thing."

It wasn't something everyone could relate to, but there was one friend who could: Miami running back Jarred Payton, son of Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton. During the Bears' Super Bowl run in 1985, it wasn't unusual to see both the younger Wilson and the younger Payton running around the locker room together.

"We hung out, and we still keep in good contact," said Quincy Wilson, who has compared notes this season on Big East opponents. "I'll probably get a chance to talk to him right before they play in the Orange Bowl. We just talk about little things."

According to Rodriguez, no one on the team has as much poise and character as Wilson, and a lot of that stems from his upbringing. "I think it's helped Quincy be more worldly," Rodriguez said. "He's a very outgoing guy, but he's very professional in his dealings with the media and the fans. The players like him, and you can't say a negative thing about Quincy."

Gator Bowl

Matchup: No. 23 Maryland (9-3) vs. No. 20 West Virginia (8-4)

Site: Alltel Stadium, Jacksonville, Fla.

When: Tomorrow, 12:30 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 11, 4/WBAL (1090 AM)

Line: Maryland by 3 1/2

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