BROOKLYN — To get into the warm and friendly confines of Isaiah Wilson’s home on 99th Street, one first must get past Jax. Jax Alexander Wilson is but a wee little Yorkie, but he’s named after a couple of “Sons of Anarchy” characters, and aptly so considering the bared-teeth and noisy fierceness with which he defends the premises and the family therein.
Jax never takes kindly to new visitors, we learn, and so there has been the last couple of months a lot of barking and growling going on at the door of one of the most prized football recruits in all of America. But you know who little Jax doesn’t get all Cujo after anymore?
Georgia offensive line coach Sam Pittman.
Pittman has passed through the threshold of the Wilsons’ neat-and-tidy residence in the Canarsie area of Brooklyn so many times the last few months that the terrorizing terrier barely takes notice anymore. In fact, Pittman was just here Wednesday evening, making his standard once-a-week visit to see Wilson and his family.
“I’ve told him, ‘you don’t have to worry, Coach, Isaiah’s not going anywhere but Georgia,’ and Isaiah’s told him the same thing,” said Kevin Fountaine, Isaiah’s coach at Poly Prep Country Day School. “But he’s like, ‘no, Coach, I’ve gotta come see my guy.’ So he comes pretty much every week.”
Understandable as Wilson is not your average recruit. He is a consensus 5-star prospect, is a 6-foot-7, 350 pounds, and he happens to play a position of great need for the Bulldogs — offensive tackle. Odds are pretty good he’ll contend to start at that position this fall.
So Pittman is a little protective of Wilson, not unlike his furry new friend, Jax the dog.
Wilson is the subject of our next Next Generation profile, which will be published on Monday at DawgNation. The Under Armour All-American gave us a rare glimpse into his very demanding life, which revolves around the academic rigors of Poly Prep and the grueling commute he has to make daily from Canarsie to Dyker Heights. That is basically one end of Brooklyn to the other.
Poly Prep and the Wilsons’ dedication to Isaiah attending school there is central to his story. Mother Sharese is a registered nurse by trade and father Merrell works in construction, so they’re hard workers and much of their income goes toward Poly Prep tuition. But their son couldn’t attend without the need-based assistance the school provides largely because of his exceptional ball-playing abilities.
So Wilson has long been accustomed to this recruiting thing. And Georgia beat out about 80 other colleges for his services. That’s how many official offers he says he ended up with. But he quickly whittled those down to five, then to three, and he chose the Bulldogs over Alabama and Michigan last month.
Part of Wilson’s reasoning was the possible early opportunity to get on the field with the Bulldogs. “I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say playing time played a role in my decision,” Wilson said. But much of it had to do with his relationship with Pittman.
Wilson said he bonded the Bulldogs’ second-year offensive line during the recruiting process, but especially during a camp visit last summer. That’s when he learned about Pittman’s coaching style.
“He coaches his players hard but does it in a loving way,” Wilson said.
Since making that decision, Wilson has resumed his life here in the most populated of New York City’s five boroughs. Recruiting was something Wilson was desperate to get over with, so he has told everybody but the Bulldogs to stay away. Most have listened but there remain suitors and visitors who still come through.
Jax takes care of them.