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Lawrence Wilson: A Tale of Resilience

Was anyone else pumped to see defensive end Lawrence Wilson record an interception against Illinois?! I mean, this guy has basically been through hell and back since joining the Buckeyes in 2005.

After Wilson graduated from St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron (yes, where Lebron went) as the top rated defensive end prospect in Ohio by many recruiting services, he arrived in Columbus with high expectations and an even higher ceiling.

His freshmen season was a transition, but a success. He played in all but one game, and even saw 17 minutes of action in the Buckeyes’ 2005 Fiesta Bowl triumph over Notre Dame. Entering his sophomore campaign, Wilson now weighed in at approximately 275 pounds (slightly more than the 225 he weighed when he graduated high school), and his combination of speed and strength began to strike fear into opponents. That year, he contributed 17 tackles, three sacks, and a forced fumble to the always stout Ohio State defense.

He was expected to be a star as a junior, but football had other plans. He soon found himself on a wicked roller coaster of injuries, rehab, success, and more injuries. In the first game of 2007, against Youngstown State, Wilson’s predicted breakout year ended as quickly as it had begun. He suffered a broken leg, and was immediately lost for the season. After months of rehabilitation, he fought his way back onto the field, using 2007 as a learning experience and as motivation to come back even hungrier. Sitting out a season can be killer for someone trying to play at such a high level, but not to be denied, Wilson put one hand on the ground and bulled his way back into the starting lineup. Through seven games, he had 18 tackles, one sack, one interception, and a fumble recovery.

However, injury struck again versus Purdue, as Wilson was dealt a torn ACL. His second major leg injury in as many years was a devastating blow. A once promising career for a top prospect was now nothing more than a locker filled with MRI results, bags of ice, and shattered dreams.

This was no longer the guy who, in the spring of 2007, was the first pick by his own teammates for the annual Scarlet and Grey game, as a defensive end! He was a far cry from the same wide-eyed high school senior who saw (University of Florida head coach) Urban Meyer fly to Akron to try to entice him to become a Gator. Now, it seemed, was probably as good a time as ever to hang up the pads for good. He graduated last June with a degree in Strategic Communication, so it was with no disrespect that many Buckeye fans, including myself, figured he was done.

But he wasn’t done. Amazingly, he reemerged from the ACL tear with three tackles in the Buckeyes’ 2009 opener against Navy. In five games so far this year, Wilson has eight tackles, two pass breakups, one tackle-for-loss, along with that interception of Illinois Quarterback Juice Williams. Lawrence Wilson has refused to quit. He has refused to proclaim himself “done.” And if you asked him today, he would probably tell you that he is just getting started.