DESOTO, Texas -- LaMichael James. De'Anthony Thomas. Dontre Wilson.
While Wilson feels he's the odd man out, Oregon Ducks fans are quick to put all three running backs in the same category -- almost to signify Oregon’s past, present and future. Ask those around Wilson, an ESPN 150 athlete from DeSoto, Texas, and the argument is supported tremendously.
On Friday, Wilson further established himself as a future FBS player to watch. The highly touted Oregon commit was awarded his jersey as part of the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game.
"Knowing that those players have done amazing things at the college already, and for me to be compared to them, it's a blessing," Wilson said, referring to James and Thomas. "I have the opportunity to go there and do some of the things they've done."
Categorized as an athlete now, Wilson is set on playing running back for the Ducks. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound, four-star player has made a case this season to be Oregon's next big thing, rushing for 1,352 yards and 26 touchdowns and catching 25 passes for 462 yards and four touchdowns. Wilson also returned a punt 94 yards for a score in the first game of the season.
DeSoto coach Claude Mathis was the first individual on Wilson's bandwagon, and he's been on board a while. He’s watched Wilson mature into a champion athlete and, more importantly, a visionary of success.
"I remember he once asked me, 'What can I do to become the best?'" Mathis said of Wilson. "That's was a special moment for me. Since then, he's won a state championship in track and is trying to win in football. It's been a joy watching this young man grow, mature and become a great leader."
Wilson's running style reminds Oregon fans of James and Thomas. He has superb speed, excellent field vision and tons of football savvy. Match that with his quickness and elusiveness and Wilson easily is one of the most difficult players to defend nationwide.
"To me, he's beyond special," Mathis said. "You don't want to punt to him. You don't want to kick to him. He's a nightmare for linebackers in the open field and in the slot. Plus, he can cover punts and cover kicks. On top of that, he can play defense if you need him to. You just don't see a lot of kids who can do all that."
Wilson is an inch taller than James and Thomas, but all three have the ability to turn nothing into something on the average run. Wilson showed his speed Thursday night against Mansfield (Texas) High, rushing for a 94-yard touchdown early in the first quarter. He finished the game with 166 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.
"They have a 'Black Mamba' now," Mathis said of Oregon, referring to Thomas, "but in a couple of years, they'll have that again. They're not going to drop off."
Wilson's not the big bruiser that LeGarrette Blount, another former Oregon back, was, but he runs as if he is 6 feet tall and 250 pounds. What he lacks in size, Wilson likes to say he makes up for in determination. His 31 times reaching the end zone serve as proof.
"I want to be the player with the most heart," Wilson said. "I'm not always the biggest player, but I always show heart on the field.
"I just think of the end zone [when I run]. Everything is on my back, that’s the way I feel. I tell myself that I'm Dontre, I'm going to Oregon, so it's pretty much on me if the team's not doing well. If I'm not doing well, we're not doing well. If I put the team on my back, hopefully, we can go and win state."
As he accepted his UA Game jersey, Wilson thought about his summer, which included invitations to The Opening in Beaverton, Ore., and Gridiron Kings at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. He thought about all the opportunities he had to show his worth against the nation's elite athletes.
Consider the UA Game a third chance to make believers out of the minimal critics he has. He knows Oregon fans will be watching, and his mission is not to disappoint them.
"The Opening was one of the best experiences of my life, and for me to be able go to the Under Armour Game, I've heard that was better than The Opening," Wilson said. "Hopefully, it'll be something I'll never forget. Hopefully, I can just make some noise on the field."