Every morning, Valencia grad and current Arizona State football player Jay Jay Wilson sends a text message to his younger brother Jayvaun, a current running back at Valencia.
“He tells me it’s time to do what we do,” Jayvaun said at a Valencia practice. “And he tells me to stay in the weight room, be focused on books – nothing else. He’s just always there just motivating me to get up every morning and come do this.”
The elder Wilson speaks from experience. Now a valuable contributor on special teams, offense and even defense at times, Wilson worked his way into his current situation.
As an athletic freshman gunning for a spot at tight end in 2015, he found his path blocked by other Sun Devils at the position, relegating him to the sidelines.
“At the end of the Texas A&M game, that was like, the first time in my whole life that … I’ve been to a football game and never played,” Wilson said. “I stood on the sidelines, and I didn’t like the feeling of just being on the team with a jersey.”
So the very next Monday, Wilson asked to be on kickoff and kickoff return. His request was granted for the former, and he added the latter shortly after.
His sophomore season at tight end, he caught four passes for 81 yards and three touchdowns.
He spent most of those two years under the tutelage of Kalen Ballage, a now-senior running back for ASU.
“We’re both really into fashion and music and we just like a lot of the same things. So that’s where we clicked in the first place,” Ballage, who scored 14 rushing touchdowns last season, said.
But friendliness quickly turned to friendly competition, whether it’s on the field, in the film room, playing video games, or most recently, wakeboarding.
“He was kind of playing with me, so I took that personally,” Ballage said. “I’m competitive. So I was like, ‘Oh, I’m going to get up.’”
In his upcoming junior year, Wilson will resume his role on special teams while playing H-back (a position similar to tight end) on offense. You could see him in packages on defense, too.
As a versatile player and always one to set a positive example, Wilson graciously accepts being shuffled around on the field.
“I’ve played every position since I was 8 to now,” he said, “so when people ask me what position I am, I say, ‘I’m just a football player.’”
Jay Jay Wilson catches a TD, UW's Brandon Beaver catches Wilson's head pic.twitter.com/vyRpQFpH0c— Brad Denny (@BDenny29) November 20, 2016
On top of his athletic accomplishments, Wilson is also the first in his family to graduate high school and continue to college. And, assuming all goes accordingly, he’ll be the first one in his family with a college degree.
“He’s the first one to break the family chain,” said Jayvaun Wilson. “…Seeing him work his way up to a starting position in college, that’s just amazing.
“And for him to be my bigger brother and a model is even more amazing, and that’s where I want to be.”