Eric Wilson at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl

Penn State left guard, Eric Wilson, caught up with Last Word on College Football this week in preparation for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.

Former Harvard offensive guard, Eric Wilson, announced his transfer destination last January. On January 28, 2021, Wilson decided to finish his collegiate eligibility at Penn State and committed to the Nittany Lions. At Harvard, Wilson was awarded 2nd Team All-Ivy in 2019 after playing in all 10 games. COVID-19 canceled the 2020 season for Wilson and he decided to transfer to complete his eligibility. Now Wilson spent his week preparing for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in sunny and 75-degree weather. A far cry from State College, Boston, and Minnesota (his home state) in the winter.

Eric Wilson at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl

After graduating from Harvard in May 2021, Wilson hit the ground running with the Nittany Lions. He earned his first start against Ball State at left guard. In his weekly press conference after the game, head coach James Franklin said, “Right now we have him as our starting left guard..” He went on to say, “…I think he’s playing well, and getting comfortable, and getting adjusted to the speed and the size of the game at this level. We’ve been impressed with him.” He went on to start 12 games at left guard for the Nittany Lions in 2021. Wilson earned an invite to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Saturday, January 29th. We were able to speak with him while he prepared in the week leading up to the bowl.

Penn State Prepared Wilson for Opportunity

A common theme throughout the conversation was that Penn State prepared Wilson for this opportunity. The graduate transfer has been praising the Nittany Lion coaching staff since he transferred to Happy Valley in the summer. Early on in the season, Wilson told Lions247 that, “Coach [Phil] Trautwein can give me the tools to stop the bull rush from a 330-pounder.”

He shared those same sentiments this week. Wilson is enjoying his time being in a Penn State uniform again. Further, playing football for NFL scouts and playing with some of the best players in college football. The 307 lb. offensive guard shared that practice this week didn’t feel much different from a practice in Happy Valley. He stated, “This is going to sound corny, but Penn State prepared me really well for this opportunity.” Wilson is not intimidated by practicing in front of crowds of people because of a normal practice environment with the Nittany Lions. He is used to having eyes on him.

The Competition He is Facing

A higher level of competition is nothing new for Wilson. The graduate transfer already had to tackle a learning curve once in the past year and now he is doing that again. He went from the Ivy League to the Big Ten. With arguably heavier and quicker defensive linemen trying to get to his quarterback. Wilson noted a similar trend this week at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl practice. He praised the competition he faced all year but said this week has been “incredible” and “seeing new guys is different”.

Usually, the offensive line has at least a week to prepare for the defense they are going to face, but not this week. “You haven’t studied their moves, so they can get you sometimes,” Wilson stated to Last Word on College Football this week. While it can be a challenge to go against a guy you have never seen on film or played before, it can also be fun. Wilson emphasized the use of mind games this week and trying to outwit or outsmart the guy across from you. “You don’t know what the guy is going to do next. He tries to set you up one way and then he changes up.” Having a Harvard degree likely doesn’t hurt in this little game.

Familiar Foes at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl

Not all the competition is new. There are other Big Ten players and foes at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl this week. When asked about having nine other players from his conference at the game and any potential friendly trach talk Wilson chuckled. He said he has had the opportunity to talk with Indiana tackle Caleb Jones and Illinois lineman Doug Kramer. Undoubtedly, Kramer had something to say about the nine overtimes. When asked about it Wilson quipped, “That is a game everyone is going to remember, unfortunately.” Penn State fans likely share those same sentiments.

What Wilson is Working Toward

Wilson is working toward the NFL and this bowl is one step closer to that dream. First, it was playing college football. Then, it was getting to bigger and tougher competition with more eyes on him. Now, he has the opportunity to work with NFL coaches and get better before the NFL Draft. It is no secret that the Penn State offensive line hasn’t been the best the last few seasons. Quarterback Sean Clifford has been sacked and hit more times than fans, coaches, and likely Clifford himself would like. However, the addition of Wilson was a bright spot for this group and the left guard position is currently left wide open entering 2022.

There are things that Wilson still needs to work on before heading to the NFL and he will be the first to tell you what those things are. He believes he needs to work on his technique overall. Further, Wilson wants to show that he can make the fixes and implement those changes that coaches have shown this week in the bowl on Saturday. One thing that Penn State fans will like to hear? Offensive line coach Trautwein prepared Wilson for this opportunity. “It’s not like I am hearing completely new language from what I was used to. But it’s nice to get a different perspective.” He said.

Wilson ended the conversation with, “It’s awesome. It’s an experience unlike any other.” When asked about his time this week. Penn State fans can watch Eric Wilson in a college setting one last time at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Saturday at 6:00 pm ET on the NFL Network.

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