Wilson anxious to tackle challenge of cracking the Titans’ depth chart
ON TO THE NEXT LEVEL
Ean Wilson made a lot of headlines in the fall of 2019 with his rushing yardage totals on the offensive side of the line of scrimmage for the 11-1 Medford Raiders.
Now Wilson will put his defensive skills to work to keep his football career going.
The 2019 Co-Offensive Player of the Year in the Great Northern Conference is headed to UW-Oshkosh to take a shot at playing NCAA Division III football and begin the path toward a projected career in teaching physical education.
At one time this school year, Wilson was leaning toward attending UW-Stout. But that changed once he decided teaching might be the career for him.
“It really just came down to what I wanted to do as a job more,” Wilson said. “At Stout, I was going to go into packaging engineering. That was the only place in Wisconsin that had that. So I was going to go there. But then I just decided I didn’t want to do that any more. I wanted to become a phy ed teacher and Stout was the only place that didn’t have that, so then I had to look.
“When I looked at Oshkosh, it allowed me a chance to get out in four years, so that turned me to look at Oshkosh and made me decide that I wanted to go to Oshkosh.”
Wilson will join a program that has been one of the best in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in the last decade. While UW-Whitewater has gained the most accolades in the sport, and deservedly so with its six NCAA Division III national championships since 2007, the UW-Oshkosh Titans have been right on the Warhawks’ heels in the past decade with five WIAC titles since 2012, an NCAA title game appearance in 2016, semifinal appearances in 2012 and 2017 and a quarterfinal appearance in 2015.
Oshkosh went 6-1 in conference play in 2019, tying Whitewater for the WIAC. The Titans beat the Warhawks 27-20 in the regular season, but Whitewater wound up going to the NCAA championship game, while Oshkosh was knocked out in the first round of the post-season 38-37 in overtime by Central College of Iowa.
Wilson goes in knowing Oshkosh has a solid roster and he’ll have to work to earn playing time.
“The plan is that I’m going to play linebacker to start because I’m not fast enough to play running back and that’s OK,” he said. “I’ll probably have to grayshirt, so I won’t play the first year. We’ll see what goes on from there.”
Being a grayshirt, he wouldn’t officially join the team until the spring semester, which allows him to keep four years of eligibility as he aims to gain strength and work his way up the depth chart.
“When I grayshirt, I’m kinda removed from the team,” he said. “I don’t do any team activities. I have to mandatorily lift weights for however long our football season is. I’m just looking to get stronger.”
Working hard, lifting weights and building strength is nothing new for Wilson, who worked his way into a starting role at running back as a sophomore at Medford. He ran for 793 yards and five touchdowns in 2017, 1,258 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2018 and then finished with a monster senior season where he ran for a school-record 2,183 yards and 29 touchdowns on 354 attempts, for a 6.2yard per carry average.
He leaves the program as its all-time leading rusher with 4,285 yards. It’s a ma- jor record for a school that’s had its fair share of outstanding running backs, but it’s one Wilson seems to hold modestly.
“It’s cool,” he said.
“The running back gets some of those accolades and all that stuff, but it’s a true team effort to get any type of running back that many yards,” Medford head coach Ted Wilson said last fall when Ean broke the all-time rushing record of 3,127 yards held by 2007 graduate Cole Garzynski. “It’s kind of a feather in Ean’s cap. It is a war of attrition in Medford. We rarely have a kid that runs the ball a bunch as a sophomore. The top two had pretty good three-year careers here, Cole Garczynski and now Ean.”
Wilson’s defensive contributions didn’t get the headlines his rushing totals got, but they were a key part of Medford’s success.
Last fall from his middle linebacker spot, he was credited with 65 total tackles, including five tackles for loss and two sacks for a team that was, by far, the best in the Great Northern Conference and didn’t allow a point when the first-team defense was on the field until week eight.
He was a two-time, first-team All-Great Northern Conference selection at the position. Being projected now as a full-time linebacker in college is OK with Wilson.
“I just want to play,” Wilson said. “I’m really excited. I just can’t wait to see what that’s like and see how it’s going to be different from high school.”
Also in his time at Medford, Wilson had a successful run with the boys track team as a hurdler and relay sprinter. He lettered as a junior in basketball.
UW-Oshkosh is also where Ted Wilson, Ean’s father and high school head coach, played as a defensive lineman in the late 1990s.
“It’s a cool experience but it gets a little rough sometimes,” Ean said of the father/son coaching relationship. “It doesn’t always turn out but that’s OK. I needed that sometimes.”
And, he said, he’ll never forget the good times he and his Medford teammates had.
“I just liked how much fun we had,” he said. “You get to know each other really well. It was a lot fun, a lot of memories.”