Indiana University quarterback Tre Roberson spun a football toward the end zone, a tad behind Duwyce Wilson but close enough for the lengthy, 6-foot-3, 200-pound receiver to grab.
Wilson planted his feet for a touchdown, pulling the Hoosiers within 10 points against visiting Northwestern on homecoming of last year.
But before the Columbus East grad could enjoy making a big play, the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee snapped. A Northwestern defender had collided into Wilson’s legs.
“It was heartbreaking,” Wilson said.
Eight months later, Wilson continues to feel pain, but it’s fading.
The same goes for the Hoosiers, who were beat up in 2011, losing all but one of their games. Wilson said the second offseason under head coach Kevin Wilson is going more smoothly than the first.
“It was a transition year, and we were such a young team,” Duwyce Wilson said. “We didn’t have as much time to build the chemistry that we have now.
“Everything is going great.”
That’s a tough portrait to paint and sell to Hoosiers fans, who watched the Kevin Wilson era start with a 1-11 season, stained by losses to mid-majors and blowout defeats. But Duwyce Wilson sells optimism.
“Everybody that’s on the team right now is 100 percent bought in,” he said. “I believe coach Wilson and the coaching staff got rid of everybody who wasn’t bought in.”
Duwyce Wilson’s former Columbus East teammate, Dusty Kiel, won’t be back for the Hoosiers.
Kiel earned the starting quarterback job after leading IU to a near-comeback performance against North Texas, but the second-oldest brother of 2011 Mr. Football Gunner Kiel, a freshman quarterback at Notre Dame, sprained his ankle against Illinois and didn’t play the rest of his sophomore year.
Mr. Football 2010, Roberson, a dual-threat quarterback from Lawrence North, emerged to start five games as a true freshman and averaged a team-high 151.4 yards of total offense. The addition of junior college transfer Cameron Coffman in the offseason further complicated a crowded backfield.
By all accounts, Kiel made the decision to leave.
“He was a close friend,” Duwyce Wilson said. “Of course, it bothered me that he left, but he’s going through his life decisions, and I’m not going to hold anything against him.”
Duwyce Wilson said he feels 90 to 95 percent healthy approaching his redshirt junior season.
He tied for the team-high with three receiving touchdowns before tearing his ACL last season. After the injury occurred, Wilson hit the books.
“I believe I became more of a student of the game,” he said. “I’ve been critiquing my receivers. I’ve been helping them out. They help me out.”
Duwyce Wilson entered last season with some hype after earning ESPN.com and Rivals.com All-Freshman honors the previous year. He caught 32 passes for 488 yards and three touchdowns as a redshirt freshman.