FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- This is confidence:
As a kid growing up in Piscataway, N.J., Kyle Wilson taped a sheet of paper on the wall above his bed. On the paper he mapped out a four-point plan for his football journey: Pop Warner. High School. College. NFL. He never wavered from the ultimate goal, not even when the school in his own backyard, Rutgers, gave him the cold shoulder.
This is confidence:
When he got to Boise State, Wilson requested No. 1 for his uniform number. Not exactly the wallflower approach, is it? His thinking: "Everybody is going to know who that guy is with No. 1, and I'm going to have something to say about it."
This is confidence:
On his first full day as a Jet, Wilson made the 40-minute drive to the team's facility in Florham Park, N.J., posed for pictures with his new jersey and told a room full of strange reporters that his goal is to make an indelible mark in the NFL.
"At the end of the day," Wilson said, "I want to be mentioned with the greats."
With that kind of 'tude, he should fit nicely into Rex Ryan's crew on defense.
Wilson, chosen with the 29th overall pick Thursday night in the draft, calls it a Jersey attitude. His older brother, Vincent, says the Rutgers snub put a chip on Kyle's shoulder. His parents, Gerry and Carrie, say Kyle is so competitive because he always was competing against his two older brothers, both of whom played college football.
They, too, were cornerbacks, Vincent, 29, at Iowa and Delaware, Gerry II, 32, at Princeton, where he was an all-Ivy League selection. They never played pro ball, but now they can watch their kid brother fulfilling a dream only 40 minutes away from home.
Wilson needed to take a 2,400-mile journey to find his way back home. Despite an all-state career at Piscataway High School, where he was named MVP of the state title game as a junior and senior, he didn't attract many recruiters. His brother, Gerry, put together a highlight DVD and mailed it to 50 colleges, hoping to generate some interest. Boise State was quick to respond. Rutgers was late to the party.
Wilson packed up and headed cross-country, to the Western Athletic Conference. He was an instant hit at Boise State. So were his parents, who attended every home game. Carrie is a retired educator, Gerry a psychiatrist for at-risk patients. They became so entrenched in the community that two friends from Boise made the trip to New Jersey for the draft, just to be with the family for the big event. In fact, they joined the family entourage for the trip to the Jets' facility.
The younger Gerry was popular in Boise because he attended games in a mobile home, an orange and blue vehicle with a huge likeness of Kyle and the Boise State logo on it. It was a fixture at home games.
"It looks like it'll be going green," Vincent said of the mobile home, referring to the looming paint job, not an environment-preserving measure.
That mobile home could become a staple in the parking lot at the New Meadowlands Stadium, Wilson's new home. Or, as Kyle said, "Right down the street" from his roots in Piscataway. Wilson always knew he'd make it to the NFL.
"Kyle always believed he could do anything," Carrie Wilson said.
As for that old four-point plan, Wilson's childhood treasure map, it's still taped to his bedroom wall in Piscataway. The tape has yellowed over the years, but the goal never faded.