Start with the sixth-grade goalpost dunk for Garrett Wilson.
Proceed to the myriad highlight-reel moments from his prep career.
Soon it is easy to understand why Lake Travis (Austin, Texas) coach Hank Carter almost feels a twinge of nostalgic sympathy for recent opponents of Wilson, the five-star wideout preparing for his first collegiate spring camp after signing and enrolling at Ohio State as part of Ryan Day’s inaugural class.
“I saw him play 7-on-7 in spring of his sixth grade year, and he scored a touchdown and dunked the ball over the goal post,” Carter told Lettermen Row. “Not used to seeing a sixth-grader do that, and watching him play middle school sports was like watching a man among boys. Watching him how he goes about competing, every season and week to week.
“His catch radius is unbelievable for a kid his size. The way he is able to manipulate his body and his timing and ability to get his hands on balls. You know, 50-50 balls thrown up to give him a shot weren’t really fair because it was high percentage for us.”
In other words, just throw the ball near Wilson and watch him go to work.
“He can fly, really get off the ground,” Carter said of Wilson’s “upper-30s” vertical leap. “Not just his vertical, his lower half, legs just always looked like the legs of a grown man. He can wait till the last minute, elevate, jump, and his timing … you don’t see it very often.
“Sometimes you see it on Saturdays [in college] and Sundays [in the NFL]. His ability to time and elevate, he’s almost like ‘Plastic Man’ like that.”
Wilson’s farewell season at Lake Travis ranks at the highest percentage, at least as it pertains to the nine-year tenure atop the program for Carter. Wilson is the school’s only back-to-back winner of the Lake Travis Football Player of the Year honor — the program’s highest individual accolade.
“Garrett, since I’ve been here, is the only player to ever win it back to back,” said Carter, a record-setting coach for the nationally acclaimed program that also produced Baker Mayfield. “It was unanimous, all the things he did for our program in playing offense, defense, special teams — and he was banged up the whole season.
“I think in today’s day and age, a kid like Garrett who’s widely recruited, he didn’t have anything to prove and could easily have shut it down and didn’t do that. He busted his tail to get out and play for his teammates and school and community.”
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Wilson plays beyond his size with a tenacious approach on the field, an intangible trait that Carter believes serves Wilson well in his college transition.
“He’s difficult to get on the ground and is an elite, elite competitor,” Carter said. “The sky’s the limit for him, it really is. I’ve never seen another like him. His level of maturity, finesse, level of respect he commands and plays the game with, just his polish, on and off the field with how he handled media and recruiting.”
Carter happily adds layers to Wilson’s all-around approach.
“He always, always was the last one off the field after a game, I mean they’re turning the lights off at the field, and there’s tons of little kids, Lake Travis boys and girls. Every time you would’ve thought was first time, because he stayed till the end,” he said. “Reminds me of how Baker Mayfield did when he was here for us, understands his impact on young people.”
Garrett Wilson obviously used to be one of them. Except, of course, he was a sixth-grader who could dunk over a goalpost.