Logan Wilson getting comfortable in the middle of Wyoming’s defense

November 23, 2018 GMT

LARAMIE — Logan Wilson was just doing what most young players do.

As a redshirt freshman linebacker at Wyoming two years ago, Wilson watched how Lucas Wacha operated in the middle. The two played alongside each other for one season before Wacha ran out of eligibility.

From making calls to recognizing formations and everything in between, Wilson wanted to pick up as many pointers as he could from his more experienced teammate. He never anticipated they’d help him in the position he finds himself in now.

“When I got to look back on little things that he did, it just kind of helped me progress,” Wilson said. “As I get more and more comfortable being a Mike linebacker, it just gets easier.”

Wilson made the move to middle linebacker to take over for Wacha following the 2016 season, and he’s been one of the Mountain West’s most productive defenders since. The Casper native is on pace to lead Wyoming in tackles for the second straight season with 97 stops, going for double-digit tackles in six games this season.

Wilson earned second-team All-Mountain West honors with 119 tackles last season — his first playing in the middle after Scottie Hazelton, who replaced Steve Stanard as the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator last fall, moved him there.

“I wasn’t totally sure of it, but the more I got to talk to Coach Haze, the more I knew that I had the most experience coming back at linebacker,” Wilson said. “He knew that I had enough athleticism to play middle linebacker, and he knew I was smart enough to play it.”

It was the latest move for Wilson, who signed with Wyoming as a 195-pound defensive back out of Natrona County High in 2015. He used a redshirt year to pack on some pounds before being moved to outside linebacker in the spring of 2016.

Wilson earned MW Freshman of the Year honors that fall with 94 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and three sacks before making the move. He’s leaned on what he’s learned from Wacha and Hazelton as well as the one attribute he’s always had regardless of where he’s lining up.

“You track the ball more from the inside out than you do outside in,” said Wilson, who’s up to 250 pounds on his 6-foot-2 frame. “I think one of my best attributes as a player is being able to run, so I think moving to Mike linebacker was better for my career because I think it allows me to run down ball carriers at different angles throughout the course of a game.”

The statistics speak to Wilson’s blend of speed and instinctiveness, but his primary objective coming into this season was to use it to become more effective at putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Wilson has just one sack this season, but he’d like to think his presence has helped the back end of a defense that’s allowing the second-fewest passing yards in the MW.

“I didn’t think I was as productive as a blitzer as I could’ve been last year,” Wilson said. “I kind of took that and improved on making my hips better to be a better blitzer. I think I’ve gotten more hits on the quarterback this year than I have before, so I think that helps. It helps bring pressure and then it helps our guys in the secondary cover better.”

Whatever the Cowboys need from Wilson at a position that’s growing on him.

“Really it just comes down to doing my job and doing my part to help our defense and our team win games,” he said. “Whether I have to make 20 tackles or four tackles, I’m just going to try to do my part and then make sure that everyone knows I have their back.”