Since football is the most team-oriented sport, it’s trite to hear that one player carried a team to victory.
But it’s no exaggeration to say Bryse Wilson won a game for Orange against Northern Durham on Aug. 28.
Not just because he caught the game-winning 44-yard touchdown pass with 52 seconds remaining. Or that he finished that drive as a wide receiver after starting it as a quarterback when regular starter Jackson Schmid injured his right foot.
It was also because that was his second touchdown reception of the game, along with three sacks and an interception.
He even took care of kickoffs and had the only touchbacks of the night.
“He’s probably the best football player I’ve ever coached,” said Orange coach Pat Moser after his team had defeated Northern 20-13. “One of the three best, anyway. He’s a superstar. He plays well all the time. He plays every play, and I think he’s probably the best player I’ve ever had.”
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior has thrown for 556 yards, run for 675, has 240 receiving yards, 84 tackles, five sacks, five blocked punts, two blocked field goals and two interceptions for the 10-1 Panthers.
That’s why when the North Carolina Shrine Bowl team was announced, some eyebrows around northern Orange County were raised when Wilson’s name was omitted.
“I was disappointed,” said Wilson, who also threw for 300 yards, blocked a punt, recorded an interception and scored a rushing touchdown in a victory over Burlington Cummings. “But you have to keep playing, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Just imagine if football was Wilson’s best sport.
He’s been a pitcher for Dean Dease’s Orange baseball team since his freshman year, when he went 11-1 with a 1.05 ERA. He was named a MaxPreps All-American, and committed to North Carolina a year later.
Initially, that may have brought mixed reactions from his father, Chad Wilson, a 1990 Orange graduate and a lifetime Duke fan. Yet Chad Wilson took it all in stride, even vowing to wear a UNC cap when his son plays at Boshamer Stadium.
Chad Wilson played defensive tackle at Orange when Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield was quarterback.
“(My dad) taught me to be aggressive and to be prepared,” said Bryse Wilson, whose younger brother Peyton is a sophomore at Orange who also plays linebacker. “I got a lot of habits from him.”
That includes film study. When Moser and his staff email game tape to all of the varsity players on Saturday mornings, Wilson is probably the most frequent viewer on the team. After practices, he watches 30-45 minutes of footage each night.
Though Wilson has received FCS football scholarship offers from Elon, Furman, Western Carolina and Liberty, no FBS schools have made similar offers to a player who can play six positions capably. Why?
“Maybe it’s my foot speed.” said Wilson. “I’d like to play both sports at UNC, but I’m not sure if that’s going to happen.”
So Wilson spent the summer gearing up for a future in baseball.
He toured with the Evoshield Canes showcase team, playing in Georgia, Arizona and Florida with teammate Brad Debo, a South Carolina recruit. It’s expected that Wilson will be selected in the Major League Baseball draft next spring.
A professional baseball life can be a nomadic one, at least in the beginning. Yet Wilson knows how he would like his journey to end.
“I want to go into the exercise science program at UNC,” said Wilson. “I want to look into either exercise therapy or an orthopedic surgeon.”
Chances are, Wilson will want to wear a lot of hats in his professional life. Which proves that some people never change.