‘I know he will go far’: Wilson is a freshman linebacker leader

Kobe Wilson is competing for a starting linebacker spot during spring practice.

Freshman linebacker Kobe Wilson runs to assist a tackle during the Owls’ game against Southern Methodist University at the Lincoln Financial Field on Nov. 7, 2020. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

In his five years with Temple University football, graduate student linebacker George Reid has never seen a freshman player like linebacker Kobe Wilson.

“The last person that I just really seen step in and just lead was [former cornerback] Rock Ya-Sin,” Reid said. “That’s the last dude I really just seen walk in and take that leadership role. I am really happy for Kobe, and I am really excited to watch his future.” 

During spring practices, Wilson is a vocal leader for the Owls. He’s improving his play through his understanding of opposing offenses and competing for playing time during the 2021 season. 

People have always called Wilson a natural leader, he said. 

“I kind of bring guys along with me,” Wilson added. “I try to motivate the team members to do better for themselves like, to do better overall.” 

Wilson, a member of the 2020 recruiting class, joined the Owls as a three-star recruit and picked Temple instead of the University of Georgia after decommitting from the University of Memphis in December 2019. Last season, he was one of only two freshmen to start on defense. 

Wilson recorded 13 total tackles, two tackles for loss, two passes defended and one forced fumble last season. 

The playing time Wilson received helped him improve his patience and understanding of opposing offenses this spring, he said. 

“It had a tremendous effect for me,” Wilson added. “Having those mess-ups in the game that allowed me to go into summer, you know, kind of know what I needed to work on more.”

Wilson is currently behind Reid on the Owls’ depth chart but is taking some reps with the first team defense and is “pushing” Reid for a starting spot, said Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers Coach Jeff Knowles. 

However, Knowles is comfortable playing Wilson at multiple linebacker spots because he played multiple spots last season, he added. 

Wilson and Reid are competing for the same position, weak side linebacker, which involves playing in zone coverage and defending against screen passes. 

Despite this, the two have created a strong relationship both on and off the field. 

“[Wilson] is my guy,” Reid said. “We always are joking, talking, and then when we are on the field, we are serious. We always push each other to do better on the field.” 

Wilson likes to joke around by calling Reid “the old one” because he frequently talks about his body aching, but their focus is always pushing each other to compete harder, Wilson said. 

Graduate student linebacker William Kwenkeu believes Wilson’s consistency in practice and overall energy is the reason he’s become a leader so early in his career. 

“He’s extremely high energy and very consistent as well as off and on the field,” Kwenkeu added. “You know, just seeing that brings a smile to everyone’s face, and you can always respect that. He’s not nearly at his ceiling yet. It will be good to see how far he can go, and I know he will go far.” 

Although Wilson is impressing his fellow linebackers and coaches this spring, he is still focused on improving his game even more before the start of fall camp in August. 

“I got to keep progressing,” Wilson said. “I find the little things I mess up in and practice and try to progress and keep getting a better player.”

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