SCOTT — Acadiana senior running back Jayrin Wilson got college programs to notice him because of his defense.
After assisting the Rams in winning back-to-back Class 5A state championships as a safety and accruing 79 tackles and four interceptions in 2014, Wilson has received scholarship offers from Tulane, Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss, Alcorn State and, as of Tuesday, Southeastern Louisiana.
But rather than pad his stats and further prove his prowess in the secondary, Wilson opted to show what he can do in the offensive backfield instead, and he’s quickly become one of Acadiana’s go-to running backs.
“I never really thought I’d get this chance,” Wilson said. “I’ve been wanting to make the move back to running back, and now that’s it’s my senior year, I finally got the chance, so I’m proud of it.”
Wilson started his offensive campaign with a bang, taking his first carry of the season 61 yards for a touchdown in Acadiana’s season opener against Northside. He finished with five carries for 93 yards and two touchdowns.
Since then his production has gradually increased, culminating in a breakout performance last Friday against District 3-5A rival Barbe. In addition to carrying the ball 29 times for 264 yards and two touchdowns, Wilson played a pivotal role in Acadiana’s 10-minute, 17-second drive in the fourth quarter that clinched a 41-35 victory.
“I really didn’t want to lose to Barbe on their home field, so I just went out there and gave it my best effort,” Wilson said. “I really didn’t (expect to get 29 carries). Coming into the game, I thought I’d have around 15, but I understand my team needed me at the end of the game, so I just had to suck it up and just run the ball as hard as I could and gain positive yards for my team.”
Since transitioning to running back, Wilson has shown proficiency in capitalizing on defensive miscues, finding seams and breaking off for big gains.
Three of his five touchdowns have come off runs of 60 yards or more, including a season-high 80-yarder against Barbe in the third quarter that tied the game.
Wilson said his big-play ability is a result of a number of factors, including his speed, his experience playing in the secondary and, most importantly, his teammates in front of him.
“My speed helps, but a lot of the effort comes from my offensive line,” Wilson said. “They really block for me every chance they get. Every time my number gets called they do a good job making sure I get open holes to run the ball.”
Wilson also atttributed much of his success to sophomore running back Ziggy Francis, who has passed the century mark a couple times himself this season. Wilson said he had no problem taking pointers from an underclassman like Francis.
“At the beginning of the year, I was learning from him. Once the season started, he showed me the points of attack, and I just started getting into the flow of things. He’s really been a help in this process.”
Even with all of his success this season, Wilson remains level-headed. He said it’s hard not to stay humble when a stable of other running backs more than capable of taking his spot.
“I can’t really label myself a star because I have younger teammates that do just as well as me,” Wilson said. “When we’re running the ball you have to look out for all of us. We’re all a threat.”