By RICK PETERSON
There's been some twists and turns along the way, but senior wide receiver Collin Wilson is back at Washburn University and fired up to finish what he started in 2017.
"I'm super excited to be back with my brothers, who I started it off with,'' the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Wilson said during Sunday's Washburn Media Day. "Now we're just a little bit older, a little more mature and I think we should have a good year.''
The Washbun Rural product has not played since the 2019 season and said having two full seasons off has strengthened his resolve to return to action.
"I'm well-rested and ready to go,'' Wilson said. "I've been working hard, really since COVID hit, so I feel stronger, faster, more athletic.''
Wilson earned All-MIAA honorable mention in '19 after catching 37 passes for 543 yards, averaging a team-best 14.7 yards per catch and tying for the team lead with seven touchdown receptions.
But Wilson and the rest of the Ichabods had the entire '20 season wiped out by COVID-19 and he made the decision to test the waters in the transfer portal prior to last season.
"There were a lot of things,'' Wilson said about making that decision. "I've been in Topeka my whole life and I kind of wanted to explore and wanted to see if I could move up to the Division I level. The transfer portal was open so it changed a lot of things and I felt like it was the best decision for my career at the time.''
When no Division I schools came calling, Wilson planned to play in '21 at Fort Hays State, but the after-effects of a bout with COVID prevented that from happening.
"I had COVID and lost like 20-something pounds and just couldn't end up playing last year,'' Wilson said. "I had gotten COVID a week before camp had started and it was bad. It was to the point where I'd run one route and be light-headed to where I didn't even want a ball thrown to me because I couldn't see. And I was like, 'That's not like me, I want the ball every play.'
"I knew I couldn't play last year, to the level I wanted to at least and needed to play to get to where I want to go.''
With his career at a crossroads, Wilson reached out to Washburn coach Craig Schurig, who gave him the go-ahead to return to the Ichabods.
"I talked to coach Schurig once I decided to take that fall off,'' he said. "I knew I wouldn't lose any eligibility and he kind of said, 'If you want to come join the team again in the spring, your spot's here.' He said, 'You might have to work to build your relationships back again with teammates,' but I think everybody's welcomed me with open arms and a lot of people kind of understood why I left.''
Having said that, Wilson is grateful to Schurig and everyone in the WU program for giving him the chance to come home.
"I'm very thankful for that because this is home,'' Wilson said. "This is where I'm from, my family has come through here, so for them to welcome me back and finish what I started is awesome. I'm very thankful for it.''
The time off from football allowed Wilson to get a jump start on his career in nursing and he has no complaints with how things have worked out.
"I graduated last May and have been working at Stormont (Vail),'' Wilson said. "Even though (leaving WU) didn't end up working out, I think it was God's plan. I was able to get some nursing experience and keep training and keep getting ready for the season, and here we are.''