When he was coming out of Kansas City’s Center High a few years ago, Jeremiah Wilson composed a ”PERSONAL STATEMENT,” all in capital letters, at the bottom of his page on a recruiting website.
“I HAVE A PASSION FOR FOOTBALL,” it began. He mentioned how he had been playing since the age of 6, and how his grandfather, Fletcher Smith, had kicked off for the Kansas City Chiefs to begin the inaugural Super Bowl, a January 1967 game in Los Angeles that saw the Chiefs lose to the Green Bay Packers.
“I BELIEVE I JUST HAVE THE GAME IN MY DNA,” Jeremiah wrote.
That remains the case, even as Jeremiah’s career at Missouri State has twice been interrupted by knee injuries. The redshirt sophomore running back made his season debut in our Oct. 17 home loss to Central Arkansas, rushing 13 times for 100 yards and a touchdown in a 33-24 loss.
Jeremiah, who goes 6-foot-1 and 216 pounds, became the first Missouri State player to rush for 100 yards since Jason Randall did so against Northern Arizona on Sept. 15, 2018, and was as a result named Missouri Valley Football Conference Performer of the Week.
As a coach, I couldn’t be happier for Jeremiah. This is one of the reasons you get into the profession — to see players overcome adversity. To watch them realize their potential. To see them fight and scratch and claw, and never give up.
Certainly Jeremiah had shown great promise before I arrived. In 2018 he rushed for 277 yards and three touchdowns on 59 carries (4.7 yards per attempt). He also averaged a staggering 43.3 yards on four kickoff returns, including a 92-yard TD. His season ended after seven games, however, when he suffered his first knee injury.
He didn’t return until the latter stages of the 2019 season, and again he sparkled. He generated 165 yards and a pair of scores on just 15 attempts, an average of 11 yards per carry. But he appeared in just two games before he was injured again.
He fought back once more, and churned out 73 yards in the first quarter of the UCA game, and 98 in the first half. His touchdown was a nine-yard run in the second period. He nonetheless told Wyatt Wheeler of the Springfield News-Leader that there is a great deal he can improve upon.
“I’m not very happy with my performance,” Jeremiah said. “I feel like I could have gone crazy but I just need to get back in the lab and keep grinding. You’ll see me in the spring.”
He promised in that same interview that he is “going to get right and … get stronger and faster.”
“I’m just hungry,” Jeremiah said. “I don’t like losing. I could’ve (done) a lot more but it’s just my first game back. I have a lot to prove.”
Still hungry. Still as passionate about the game as ever. Still looking to write another chapter in his story. As a coach, you can’t help but be excited about something like that.