There have been multiple talented wide receivers in the National Arena League (NAL) in its three years of existence, but one receiver stands out more than any other receiver: Devin Wilson. Wilson’s dominance in the NAL year after year after year proves why he is the best receiver in the league.
Devin Wilson’s Dominance in the NAL
To start, Wilson has been in the NAL since its inception in 2017. In the NAL, he has racked up 2,612 yards and 60 touchdowns on 219 receptions (including playoffs). Note that Wilson played for the Maine Mammoths in 2018 and didn’t advance to the playoffs. Wilson didn’t play all 14 games in 2017 due to being on the Cleveland Gladiators of the Arena Football League (AFL) earlier in the year.
When it comes to records, Wilson may not hold every record in the book, but he can say that he holds the record for the most consecutive active games with at least one touchdown catch with 19, dating back to July 21, 2018 against the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks. The next player behind Wilson in that record is LaVon Pearson, who is now with the Spokane Shock of the Indoor Football League (IFL), of the Massachusetts Pirates and Carolina Cobras from May 4, 2019 against the Jacksonville Sharks (13 games).
To add to his résumé in 2018 and 2019, Devin Wilson made the First Team All-NAL Offense. No other receiver in the NAL has made First Team-All NAL for more than one year. Wilson is also the only receiver to go back-to-back with having 1,000+ receiving yards and is on pace to be the first receiver with 100 receiving touchdowns. He is also the only offensive player to win two championships. The only player in the league with two championship victories is Keith Bowers, who was also with the Sharks in 2017 and 2019.
Comparing Devin Wilson to Others in the NAL
Other very talented receivers have put up many impressive numbers and can make an argument as to why they are the best WR in the NAL, like Jordan Jolly. Jolly has been in the league for two years and has amassed 196 receptions for 2,317 yards and 58 touchdowns. Jolly also played quarterback in two games for the Cobras in 2019, which put the cherry on top as to why he also won the 2019 NAL MVP award.
Another receiver who has proven that he is a great receiver in the NAL is Mardy Gilyard, who played for the Massachusetts Pirates over the last two years. Gilyard has totaled 159 receptions for 1,760 yards and 49 touchdowns.
Proving Wilson’s Case
The two receivers mentioned have put up those stats with just one or two quarterbacks. Wilson, on the other hand, has put up his numbers with eight different quarterbacks. To name the eight, Wilson started in 2017 with Damien Fleming in Jacksonville, then was back-and-forth between Fleming and Jason Boltus due to inconsistent play. In 2018 with the Mammoths, Wilson had Jonathan Bane, Kenyatte Allen, and Michael German, due to a Bane concussion. In Wilson’s 2019 season with the Sharks, he caught passes from Bane, Mike Fafaul, and Gary Chouloute.
If Wilson had one or two consistent quarterbacks, he would’ve been in the hunt for MVP in both 2018 and 2019, but that’s the coulda, shoulda, woulda game. Jolly has only been with Charles McCullum in the NAL, and Gilyard has been with Sean Brackett most of the time, Darron Thomas in the end of the 2018 season, and Alejandro Bennifield in 2019.
Another thing that can go in Wilson’s way is that he’s played with the best receivers in the NAL both in 2018 and 2019, making it even tougher to put up significant stats like he did both years. In 2018, he was on the same team as Edgar Poe Jr. and then Durron Neal, Jarmon Fortson, Cody Saul, and Chris Gilchrist. Having that many talented receivers on the ball definitely means that Wilson will not get the ball as much as if he was the Calvin Johnson of the Jacksonville Sharks, getting almost every pass in his direction all year like Jolly and Gilyard.
Wilson Robbed of MVP?
In 2019, Devin Wilson put up an impressive 115 receptions, 1,295 yards, and 32 touchdowns with three different quarterbacks. With that many quarterbacks, he still kept his touchdown streak record alive. Jolly may have had better stats, but Jolly did all of that with no other quarterback. Wilson did the most with what he had, and that is what the MVP award should be based off of; not stats, but by how well a player plays under the adversity and unforeseen circumstances. Also, how Jolly received both Offensive Player of the Year AND League MVP in the same year is definitely not how a league should run their awards at the end of the year. Many players last year hogged multiple awards that others deserved. To see a more in-depth reason as to why Wilson was deserving of the MVP award, click here.