Nov 7, 2012
By Akeem Glaspie
CARBONDALE, IL - Saluki right guard Richard Wilson knows the benefits of a disciplined upbringing and a strong work ethic.
The 6-foot-3, 314-pound offensive lineman grew up in a household where both his parents were teachers. They instilled in him at an early age the values necessary to be a leader on and off the field.
"There was a lot of discipline growing up," Wilson said. "I think that helps me on the field as a football player to not make mistakes. You study more because that's what I had to do as a kid."
As a kid, Wilson played linebacker, where his father, Richard Sr., put him through drills to help him learn the position.
Richard Wilson will play his final game as a Saluki on Senior Day vs. Western Illinois
Heading into his junior year of high school at Marion Catholic in Chicago Heights, Ill., Wilson weighed about 220 pounds. His head coach, Dave Mattio, said that he had the talent, but not the weight needed to play in college.
Wilson bulked up to 270 pounds his senior year of high school and arrived on the SIU campus the following year weighing 275. After a redshirt year, Wilson began the 2009 campaign weighing more than 300 pounds.
"That redshirt year, all you do is lift and run," Wilson said. "That helped me a lot. Gaining the weight and strength was a gradual process."
Wilson is one of the more versatile linemen on the team. He started all 11 games of last season at right tackle and even played some left tackle during the summer before settling in at his current right guard position. Wilson also serves as one of the captains of the team and is willing to help wherever and however he can.
"I feel like I can help the team anywhere I play," Wilson said. "As long as I know what I have to do out there, that's half the battle. I can stay focused and make sure that everyone is on the same page on offense."
"The biggest thing is the game speed for them," Wilson said. "Figuring out which way they're going and doing it at full speed is critical."
Wilson credits former Saluki linemen David Pickard and Brian Boemer for showing him what it takes to be a leader, witnessing from them the unity and cohesion it takes to be successful as a group.
"We hung out all summer and made sure most of us could work out at the same time," Wilson said. "We'd run together, lift together and go through everything that it takes to build unity. It's been really productive to do that because I think everyone trusts everyone out there, which is huge on the offensive line, and it's only helped us become better as the season goes along."
While he doesn't have much time for it during the season, in his free time Wilson said he loves to go bowling. The coaches even used the activity as a team-building exercise before the season.
"We used to make it a habit three or four times a month to go bowling as a family," Wilson said. "It was something that I was obsessed with since I was little. My brothers and sisters bowled, so it got really competitive."
Wilson, who averages in the low-200s when he bowls, said he sees similarities between bowling and football.
"You have to be disciplined, you have to focus, and you have to execute," Wilson said. "As long as you know you're doing everything right, good things are going to happen. Same thing in bowling, if you throw it right and hit your spots you're going to knock the pins down."
Wilson will get his final chance to knock some opposing players down on the field in his final game as a Saluki, when SIU hosts Western Illinois on Senior Day a week from Saturday.