'Zach has rare ability': Tony Romo dishes high praise on former BYU QB Zach Wilson

Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo speaks during a media event with Utah Section PGA president Devin Dehlin ahead of the Utah Open, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021 at Riverside Country Club in Provo.

Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo speaks during a media event with Utah Section PGA president Devin Dehlin ahead of the Utah Open, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021 at Riverside Country Club in Provo. (Sean Walker, KSL.com)



PROVO — Count one of the top quarterbacks in the modern NFL among Zach Wilson's believers: former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.

Speaking at a media event for the upcoming Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open, Romo drew comparisons of Wilson to a "young Dan Marino."

"People forget that Marino was the guy in the '80s, and then what it morphed into," Romo said of the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft by the New York Jets. "But I just think that Zach has rare ability, and when I watched him in his first preseason game and in like four plays, I could see things that he has that are special.

"God doesn't give those gifts to very many people."

Wilson completed 6 of 9 passes for 63 yards in limited reps in his preseason opener, which the Jets won over their crosstown rival Giants.

In that short time — plus a handful of highlights, and however else Romo has been able to follow the meteoric rise of the Corner Canyon product — the former Cowboys signal-caller saw something special.

"Without knowing him, but if he's like what I think he is — a hard worker who cares for and loves the sport — the ceiling is crazy high for this kid," Romo said. "I mean, Patrick Mahomes, crazy levels, which is saying a lot."

A three-year starter at BYU, Wilson left school a year early putting up fantastical numbers in 2020. A 74% passer for 3,692 yards and 33 touchdowns with just three interceptions during an 11-1 campaign for the No. 11-ranked Cougars, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Wilson finished his college career throwing for 7,652 yards and 56 touchdowns while running for 642 yards and 15 more scores.

As a junior, Wilson finished eighth of the Heisman Trophy balloting, the highest finish for a BYU player since Ty Detmer in 1991.

Romo was a guest of the Utah Section PGA and former PGA Tour golfer B.J. Staten, and will play in the local tournament beginning Friday alongside local pros like Bruce Summerhays and Steele DeWald, former Utah golfer Brandon Kida and current Utah standout Blake Tomlinson next week in a packed field that also includes BYU men's golf coach Bruce Brockbank and his golfers Tyson Shelley and Cole Ponich.

It's not the first golf tournament the four-time Pro Bowler-turned-CBS analyst has played in. And it won't be the last as Romo carves out a career equally as lucrative off the field as it was on.

That includes golf, a current favorite pastime.

"I think there's something great about still being able to compete against yourself and other people," Romo said. "There's something about hitting the golf ball flush that draws you back — even if you only do it once. It seduces you right back in."

Wilson and the Jets will face the Green Bay Packers in Week 2 of the NFL preseason this weekend. And Romo will likely be watching from his current lodging in Utah, where he's preparing for the annual tournament in Provo.

Wilson's got a pretty big fan, after all.

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