PETTICOAT JUNCTION — McKenzie Wilson didn’t get to sign his letter of intent when he originally planned to; he was busy having surgery to repair an injury he suffered in Silver Bluff’s state championship game against Batesburg-Leesville. However, on Tuesday, Wilson was able to make his intention to join the Limestone College football program final.
“He’s a bright young man, a hard worker and I think he’s got a big upside in college,” Silver Bluff head coach Al Lown said. “He can grow into playing several positions. He can play outside linebacker; he can play in the slot. He has enough natural ability as far as catching the ball and athleticism that he’ll have a wide range of options on where he can play up there.”
Wilson played as a tight end for most of his time at Silver Bluff and added the role of outside linebacker in his senior season with the Bulldogs. Lown said his absence on the field was possibly the most detrimental to the defense in the state championship game. However, the game did give the head coach a chance to see what it would be like without Wilson, a situation he isn’t looking forward to in the upcoming season.
“I could always count on him at tight end,” Lown said. “It was really hard on me in the state championship game when I’m looking out there, and he wasn’t there. I’m going to miss the comfort zone of having him out there at tight end for three years.”
Wilson said he’ll miss Lown, his teammates, coaches and the community at Silver Bluff but is excited for the opportunity to make an impact at Limestone.
The Saints will be taking the field for the first time this season. The program started in 2012, and though they had a full roster last season, the year was spent practicing and building in preparation for the 2014 year. Limestone will compete as a Division II independent school but does have an agreement with the South Atlantic Conference to play eight games against teams from the conference.
“To know that I can go there and make history and set records because it’s the first season, that’s an awesome feeling right there,” Wilson said. “I’ll always be a member of that first group of players to touch the field at Limestone.”
Wilson chose Limestone over Paine College, another school set to join the Division II ranks in the 2014. He said it felt right when he visited the school located in Gaffney. The school also features other talent from the CSRA including former Bulldog La’Darise Williams, who signed to play there last year.
“Me and (La’Darise) are real good friends, and I figured if he’s having a good time there, it must be a good place. So I decided to join him,” Wilson said. “Since he’s been there a year already, he can show me some things and teach me stuff.”
Wilson plans to major in pre-physical therapy while in school and hopes to be a physical therapist for college athletes at a university. Always eager to learn, Wilson said he was taking note of the things his physical therapist would do as he recovered from his injury. His time rehabbing strengthened his desire to go into the field.
“When I was there I was paying attention to how he did things and how he interacted with people, and I saw that I could get use to doing that,” Wilson said. “I love sports. I just want to stay surrounded by sports.”
Eric Russell covers sports for the Aiken Standard. Follow him on twitter @EricJ_Russell.
Staff Photo by Eric Russell McKenzie Wilson, front row center, signs a letter of intent to play football at Limestone College. As Front row from left, his father Alfred and mother Mary look on. Also in attendance were, top row from left, McKenzie's Uncle Paul, aunt Betty Doyle and uncle Richard.×