PROVO — Out of context, the comment may cause some BYU fans to halt.
Zach Wilson, the sophomore quarterback coming off shoulder surgery and the presumptive starter in Provo, expressed doubts about being 100% ready — with a capital “R” — for the first game of the season, which is Aug. 29 against in-state rival Utah.
And if that’s all he said, then maybe there would be cause for concern.
What could be wrong? Did he have a setback? Is his shoulder fine? Has he fully recovered from an injury that also afflicted a half-dozen other teammates?
“I think I’m ready,” Wilson said in response to a question about his shoulder following Wednesday’s opening day of fall camp. “The problem is just endurance. I haven’t been throwing routes for as long as I’ve wanted; they had me on a pitching count.
“Luckily, the game isn’t tomorrow, so I don’t have to worry about that.”
So he’s not ready? Or he is?
Truth be told, if the Cougars were playing the Utes tomorrow, Wilson would be the go-to quarterback. That’s what he insisted. That’s what head coach Kalani Sitake said. That’s also according to each of Sitake’s assistants who spoke to the media — both formally and informally — as they walked off the practice field inside the Indoor Practice Facility.
But is he all the way back?
Well, maybe not quite.
“We’re still working on him, getting his legs back to 100%,” Sitake said. “But I think he’s really close.
“I think he’ll be ready (for Game 1). But he’ll tell you the truth, and we’ll have him ready. I really liked what I saw from the whole position group of the quarterbacks.”
With a dash of truth serum, the sophomore quarterback who threw for 1,578 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions as a freshman was candid in his recovery. He’s been in rehab. He’s been on the slow mend since undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder — an injury that kept him out of spring ball and kept him on the sideline for the majority of BYU’s player-run practices over the summer.
He’s been diligent in his rehab. Even when players wanted to get him to “cheat” or easily throw a few footballs in a park near BYU’s campus, Wilson was determined.
He didn’t want a setback, so he followed his pitch count — a modified training regime influenced by BYU’s athletic training staff, medical advisors and a former Major League Baseball physician, according to quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick.
It's because Wilson knows that once Aug. 29 rolls around, he has to be ready to go. And if he’s not 100% ready before then? That’s fine. Just as long as he hits the target date.
That doesn’t mean he’s slowing down in practice, either. He can’t afford to do that with a backup quarterback group on his heels that includes dual-sport BYU athlete and former Maple Mountain star Jaren Hall, previous starter Joe Critchlow, and former Nevada signee Baylor Romney.
No complacency: that’s part of the deal, too.
“The second you get complacent is the second you start to lose your job, and you fall off,” Wilson said. “We let the coaches handle everything, but we came out here every day like this is a tryout. I know every position player does the same thing.”