Though only a sophomore, Duwyce Wilson came into this season looking to play the mentor role to a young group of Indiana receivers. That meant not only leading by example but also by talking more, something that does not come naturally to him.
Wilson grew up in a household where words were hardly ever spoken. Both his parents, Duwyce Sr. and Celestine Wilson, and two of his sisters are deaf. Only Duwyce Jr. and his oldest sister were born with the ability to hear.
"Our house was a lot more quiet than most," Duwyce said. "When my parents needed me, they'd bang on the floor or something like that, and you had to know it was for you. So it was a little something different."
He and his oldest sister often had to communicate for the family whenever they went out in public, whether that was needing help at a store or ordering at a restaurant.
"She's a lot better at sign language than me, so she'd do a lot of the interpreting," he said. "I can hold a conversation and understand it well enough to know what they're saying, but I can definitely get better."
Wilson is using his time at Indiana to improve his sign language skills. He is majoring in speech and hearing sciences and hopes to become an interpreter after he's done with football. He's looking forward to doing some work in that field in the near future, but he's already learned a lot from his classes.
"My mom says she definitely could tell that my signing has improved, so she's happy with me," he said. "But I'm trying to keep on improving."
He's also doing a good job of improving on the football field.
Wilson turned in a solid redshirt freshman campaign in 2010, catching 32 balls for 488 yards and three touchdowns. We named him to the ESPN.com All-Big Ten Freshman team.
He stood out during spring camp while adjusting to new coach Kevin Wilson's offense but was slowed in fall practice by a muscle strain. The 6-foot-3, 196-pounder got going in the second game of this season, and last week against South Carolina State, he had six receptions for a career-high 101 yards and a touchdown.
"He's a guy who was a little bit under the radar coming into the season," Kevin Wilson said. "He can bring some things that are very comparable to Damarlo [Belcher], so he's a nice complement to him on the outside. He's still not getting a lot of touches, but he has made a couple of big plays."
Duwyce Wilson came to IU from nearby Columbus, Ind., playing for the same high school team as current Hoosiers quarterback Dusty Kiel and his younger brother Gunner Kiel, a star quarterback recruit who has committed to Indiana. Wilson's family may not hear the roar of the crowd, but they come to every home game. Last week, they got to see the Hoosiers record their first victory of the season. The team will try to follow that up this week with its first true road game of the year at North Texas.
"People are happy we got the win," Duwyce Wilson said. "But we're hungry for more. We're still developing as a team."
With standout receivers Terrance Turner and Tandon Doss moving on from last year's team, Wilson knew he had to develop more as a player and a leader this season along with Belcher. He's doing that on the field, but he admits the talking part is still a work in progress.
"I'm trying to be more vocal," he said. "It's something I'm working on as the days go on."