By LARRY VAUGHT
For as long as Terry Wilson has played football, he’s always been a quarterback. Yet his mother, Loise Wilson, still has trouble watching him play.
“I hold my breath every snap. I hardly see what is going on on the field. I have to look at the replay or ask someone what happened,” she said. “It is kind of like a roller coaster. You are elated when things go good and then something goes wrong, it is like the wind just leaves your body. I can’t hardly explain it.”
What her son has done is win his first five starts as No. 13 UK has opened the season 5-0 for the first time since 2007 going into Saturday night’s game at Texas A&M. Wilson has completed 62 of 93 passes for 595 yards and two scores with five interceptions. He’s also rushed for 300 yards and three scores.
Obviously, his mother is proud of him. Like most mothers, she has been his “No. 1 supporter” and always felt he had the potential to be special when he was growing up and then playing high school football in Oklahoma. He signed with Oregon, redshirted and then transferred to a junior college before coming to UK in January. He won the starting job over Gunnar Hoak in pre-season practice.
“The success and progress he has made now at Kentucky, I am just so grateful. I am like, ‘Wow.’ It is so exciting to see everything that is happening for this team,” she said.
Loise Wilson has three daughters who are all older than Terry. She says he’s the “baby” of the family and has always had four mothers because his three older sisters all act like his mother.
“You have to learn how to talk and speak up for yourself with all those women in the house,” Loise Wilson said. “He learned that at an early age. When he was in middle school, he really matured and decided to focus on football. He had played football, basketball and did all the other things but when got to middle school football started winning. He keyed in on football. I knew then this was probably the road we were going down. By the time he left eighth grade I knew he was going to be playing football for a while.”
Her son built a relationship with the coaching staff at Nebraska and verbally committed there. That pleased his mother because it was not that far from home. Oregon kept recruiting him and Oregon quarterback coach Scott Frost made a connection with Terry Wilson that eventually led him to choose Oregon (Frost then left to become head coach at Central Florida before Wilson’s year at Oregon).
“I was hesitant about Oregon. It was far away. The distance was a big issue but I felt he was in good hands,” Loise Wilson said. “They had everything necessary to develop him. I felt good about it.”
When it didn’t work and Terry Wilson wanted to go to junior college, his mother really worried. Her only real knowledge of junior college football came from watching “Last Chance U,” a Netflix documentary series on junior college football. She was in favor of transferring to another Division I school.
“When he decided he want to play (junior college) and get on the field, we went through where I told him his trainer would be buying Ibuprofen at Wal-Mart and putting his own ice in a bag. I prayed many a night not to let him drive home because he had his car there. I just knew he was going to leave,” she said. “He told me it was hard and tough but he appreciated it. It helped him grow in ways that are beneficial to him now.”
Wilson completed 57.6 percent of his passes and threw 2,133 yards and 26 touchdowns and ran for 518 yards and five touchdowns at Garden City Community College in 2017. ESPN ranked him the No. 5 overall junior college player.
But if not for what his mother called “divine intervention” he likely would have been playing for Florida, not Kentucky. Hs mother knew nothing about Kentucky other than a special she had seen on TV about UK quarterback Stephon Johnson. The family had plane reservations for a visit to Florida and then planned to maybe come to UK for a visit.
“But we talked to coach (Vince) Marrow and decided for some reason to go to Kentucky instead of Florida to visit,” Loise Wilson said. “The flights, reservations in Florida were made. But in less than 24 hours, we changed and decided to go to Kentucky. Terry just had a short window of time (to make visits). He wanted to sign by Dec. 20. He had been talking to (Florida) coach (Dan) Mullen a lot. Kentucky was scheduled for a visit but I thought we would go to Florida first. It was just divine intervention that we didn’t and I am so grateful because he is where he’s supposed to be now.
“We honestly had not talked about Kentucky that much until Terry just changed his mind about where we were going. I had talked to coach Marrow a few times. He was telling me about the program and I thought it sounds good but other schools were also calling. I am a very, very faithful person and I just believe things work out the way they are supposed to and that’s exactly what happened here.
“When we got to Kentucky for our visit, he went to practice and watched workouts. They really wanted him and needed him. Even if he was not the starter, he saw a program that really wanted him and knew right then this place was special. He was lucky he got to rest his recruitment and go to a major, major program like this.”
Distance is not a factor for his mother. His mother made five trips to Oregon to see games during his redshirt season. One time she left Oklahoma City on a Thursday night and got to Eugene, Ore., late Friday night after a 30-hour trip for a noon game on Saturday when she knew he wouldn’t even be playing. She slept a few hours after the game and then drove back to Oklahoma City on Sunday.
“If I did that for a child that was not playing, then I definitely am coming to Lexington because it is a lot closer than Oregon,” she said. “My daughter and I drive and if my son-in-law can make it he will drive and we will just help out with the driving. If it is my daughter and me, we split up the driving because it is still 12 hours one way. We have little stopping places we know to break up the trip.”
She says Saturday night’s game at Texas A&M is like a “home” game for her because it is only a three-hour drive. Same for the game at Missouri later this month that will only be a 5-hour drive.
Kentucky is an underdog in its fourth straight Southeastern Conference game. Loise Wilson doesn’t care because she thought before the season started that UK might fool a lot of football experts this year.
“My daughter and I have been putting our football brains together on this thing since January,” Loise Wilson said. “We thought that something is going on in Lexington then and we certainly do now and it’s been a whole lot of fun.”