“There’s a point you have to just laugh at it,” James Wilson said of his constant health problems. “Now it’s just time to grind.”
If the injuries were different, maybe his frustration wouldn’t be as constant. However, after four surgeries to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee during his time at Florida, Wilson doesn’t know what else to do. It happened again to cause him miss the entire spring practice.
Outside of when he broke both of his feet as a sophomore and was forced into a wheel chair, all of the injuries have involved the meniscus in his left knee.
“It has been frustrating, but you’ve got to keep your head up,” Wilson said. “It just makes me stronger.”
Wilson admits he has heard all the questions. He has been on the team for four seasons and had only a minor impact. When he can head into a season healthy, it’s usually not long before that changes, whether in practice or in a game.
There are plenty of doubts about whether he can stay healthy enough to contribute this season, and Wilson understands it. He feels like he can prove the doubters wrong this year, but he has also felt that way before.
“I think I’ve proved them wrong every season, but then I just get hurt again,” Wilson said with a shy smile. “It’s out of my mind now, though.”
During his time on the sidelines of practice, Wilson and offensive tackle Matt Patchan have grown close. The two have been marred with injuries throughout their career, with Wilson’s being more conventional football injuries.
For Patchan, it’s not always things that happen on the football field. He once missed time because of falling of his scooter, but the most infamous off the field injury was the time he was shot, something Wilson said Patchan “laughs about.”
The two snake bitten offensive linemen didn’t want to be close friends by spending time together on the sideline, but that’s the way it happened.
He has always been there,” Wilson said. “In the last camp, we both got hurt so we were there together. We just had to keep each other positive.”
Since he has grown used to not practicing, Wilson put in plenty of time working with the younger players. He decided to use his experience as a positive and continue to benefit the program.
“You’ve just got to try and help the younger guys,” Wilson said about what he does on the sideline. “You can’t let yourself think about the negative things because that’ll eat you up.”
There are question marks all over the offensive line this year. Patchan and Wilson need to stay healthy to provide extra bodies. Sixth-year senior transfer Dan Wenger would be a big boost if he is in playing shape. After that, the success of the line will come down to mostly young players.
“We’ve got so much potential, but we just have to grind and figure out this offense,” Wilson said. “That’s the main focus.”
Wilson’s main competition at guard has been Ian Silberman. Jon Halapio seems likely to start at right guard, leaving Wilson and Silberman battling for the left guard spot.
Since moving from tackle to guard this offseason, Wilson has seen Silberman take off. Despite there being a position battle, Wilson has put in plenty of hours trying to improve Silberman. He has seen the redshirt freshman blossom because of his athleticism.
“He’s doing great,” Wilson said. “The competition between me and him makes us better. I think we’ll both play a lot. He’s really moving a lot better (than me).”