The media in Miami has recently reported that last year’s rookie CB Jimmy Wilson will be playing safety for the Dolphins in 2012. We don’t exactly know if he will be used as the strong or free safety, but he will be competing with Reshad Jones, Chris Clemons, Tyrone Culver, and Tyrell Johnson for a starting spot. Because of his limited playing time last year, the casual fan may have never heard of him. Considering the likelihood of him being a starter next year, I thought it would be a good idea to take a closer look at Jimmy Wilson.
The Dolphins selected Wilson from The University of Montana with the 235th pick in the seventh round of last year’s NFL draft. He began his college career in 2004 with the Grizzlies as a cornerback. During his first three years, he excelled as a “shut-down” corner, playing 41 games with eight interceptions and one touchdown. Montana’s defensive coaches claimed Wilson was the most competitive and hardest hitting players they have ever coached. In fact, Wilson was famous for his helmet shattering hits and opposing receivers always knew where he was on the field. During his junior year, he was a second team all Big Sky Conference selection.
However, in the summer of 2007 before the start of his senior year, Wilson was arrested for murder charges by the state of California, for shooting and killing his aunt’s boyfriend during an altercation. After spending 25 months in a Los Angeles jail and enduring two separate murder trials, he was finally acquitted on all charges by a jury who sided with Wilson on acting in self-defense.
After being away from football for over two years, Wilson wanted to give the game one more chance to come back and play his senior year in 2009. But since the NCAA has a five year window of eligibility which had elapsed on Wilson during this time, he had to petition the NCAA for a sixth year. This was eventually granted to him in 2010 when he returned to The University of Montana. Wilson played just eight games and was converted over to safety.
Because of the two murder trials and the time off from football, Wilson realized he had a very slim chance of getting drafted last year. His small window into the NFL could have closed on him if he went undrafted last year, because of the rules prohibiting NFL teams from signing rookies after the draft during a lockout year. All Wilson wanted was a chance, and he hoped a team would give him an opportunity. Jeff Ireland and the Dolphins did just that.
Last year as a rookie, Wilson had very limited playing time as a defensive back and got most of his minutes from special teams. Mainly coming in as a role player, he finished the year with just 16 tackles, two forced fumbles, and an interception. Regardless of the mediocre stats, Ireland and the Dolphins’ coaching staff speak very highly of Wilson with hopes of him becoming an impact player in 2012. Considering how poorly the secondary played last year, Wilson may just be the answer.
Even though the Dolphins finished the 2011 season with the third ranked rushing defense in the NFL, their secondary was suspect at best. They finished 25th in the league by giving up almost 250 passing yards per game. It’s no secret that this was a major issue that needed to be addressed this offseason. But since Miami released veteran captain SS Yeremiah Bell and failed to sign a high profile player as SS Reggie Nelson in free agency, maybe the Dolphins feel they already have Bell’s replacement in the 5’11 185 pound Wilson?
It’s safe to say Wilson has traveled down a very rough road to get where he is today. To be away from the game for three years and have your freedom rest in the hands of a jury twice, would make any player look at his life from a different perspective. Wilson understands the significance of a second chance and how hard they are to come by. His prayers were answered when the Dolphins gave him the hope he was waiting for by selecting him in the final round of last year’s draft. This upcoming season, the Dolphins will give Wilson another chance, this time to earn a spot as a starting safety.
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