Pandemic or not, nothing’s going to stop Zach Wilson from getting ready for the upcoming season — whenever it starts and whatever it looks like.
When spring practice started in March, it became clear three quarterbacks would be vying for BYU’s QB1 role. All three — Wilson, Jaren Hall and Baylor Romney — got starts during the Cougars’ 2019 injury-laden season. Most importantly, they all showed they could do the job well.
“I think just knowing that there's always going to be a competition is the way to treat everything,” Wilson said. “Competition is what strives people to be their best selves. I know that's what the coaches are looking for in pushing me.”
But all three went through their fair share of injuries themselves last year.
Before the season even started, Wilson had surgery on his shoulder and sat out spring practice, opening up the door for Hall to step in and get a majority of the reps at the time. Then, once the season started, Wilson broke his right (throwing) thumb during the fifth game of the season, Hall sustained concussions in both games he started and Romney suffered a foot injury before the Utah State game that he was still recovering from in March.
The Draper native thinks about last season often. He doesn’t really like how it played out.
“Last year, my biggest weakness was probably me physically,” Wilson said. “With the shoulder being so rushed and having a broken hand halfway through the season, it was just hard to stay ready to go. Obviously, every week, mentally I felt like I was ready to go, but physically, it was hard to stay on top of it. So, that's probably my biggest focus now, just staying healthy and just continuing to get stronger and the shoulder continues to get healthier.”
While not all injuries can be prevented, Wilson is working on having a better understanding of injuries. Of course, injuries come with the game of football, but Wilson hopes to be able to protect himself more and try to understand circumstances to keep him out of situations like the one he found himself in when he broke his hand at Toledo.
And he’s been working on that while in Southern California.
For the last three weeks, Wilson has been working out and training in Huntington Beach with the 3DQB program. 3DQB is a program designed to inform, instruct and inspire quarterbacks to maximize both physical and mental potential for in-game competition, according to the website's mission statement.
The program was created by Adam Dedeaux, a former USC baseball player who signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a left-handed pitcher. Dedeaux, Tom House (who pitched seven years in the big leagues and later rose to fame as a pitching guru) and former Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly serve as motion performance experts. Former BYU quarterback John Beck serves as a motions mechanics instructor.
“The whole day revolves around staying focused with football,” Wilson said. “Early in the morning we get a throwing session in, then we go over and get a lift in and then we'll get a big group of guys together to go play basketball and then go to the beach and hang out. It's just very focused.”
This is the third year Wilson heads out to 3DQB, having first gone during the summer of 2018. This time around, he’s just wrapped up his third week of being out there and is driving back to Utah on Saturday.
Every offseason he works at 3DQB, Wilson sees a couple dozen starting NFL quarterbacks working out as well. Seeing all the professionals working out is inspiring, Wilson said.
But he's focused on the now and on himself.
“This year it's really just creating habits,” Wilson said. “I have so much time to come down here and work out, and because of all this pandemic stuff, that I'm trying to create habits of my throwing technique and just being consistent all the time. So that, when season comes, I can keep the same fluidity with my throwing motion and make big time throws.”
With so much uncertainty surrounding the upcoming college football season due to the pandemic, Wilson isn't sure how everything will play out, but he feels confident that canceling the season would just create a bigger problem. However, all schools would have to be on the same schedule, which could prove to be difficult as states are reopening at different times and have different levels of precautions.
If the season gets played out in empty stadiums, Wilson thinks games could lack energy, but players may be able to focus more on their assignments.
Still, Wilson is going to get himself ready to compete.
“The thing I have to realize is that the same guys have been in this QB situation for three years and I was the guy that they picked,” Wilson said. “There’s a reason they chose me to be the guy, so I have to approach things with the mentality that I am the guy. And there is a competition. I need to push myself to be the best I can be.”