Newcomer Wilson ready to take over as Smyrna quarterback

Isaiah Wilson V

SMYRNA — The raindrops were beating down across his helmet for most of the day.

But Isaiah Wilson V left the field with a bright smile.

There’s no place he’d rather be than at the first football practice of the school year.

“I love football, man,” said the Smyrna senior quarterback, who’s replacing graduated star Nolan Henderson. “It’s something I couldn’t live without. Coming out here, I love it. I’m surrounded by a talented team with great coaches and I can’t wait for the year to start.”

Tuesday was the first day of fall sports practice for all teams throughout Delaware.

It was a little different for Wilson, though. This was his first time donning the red and white helmet at an official practice.

Wilson joins the two-time Division I state champions for the last year of his high school career after three years as the starter for Glasgow High. Wilson transferred to Smyrna late in the winter when his family moved to the Smyrna area.

For Smyrna coach Mike Judy, the most important thing was how quickly Wilson connected with his teammates.

“When he came in last year he did a good job of becoming part of the football family,” Judy said. “The kids are great judges of character and they’re really tight. So when someone new comes in, it’s so easy to break into that circle. He was readily accepted early and that’s a good sign for him. That says a lot about his character and who he is.”

And while Smyrna runs a high-tempo spread offense like few in Delaware do, Wilson ran something similar at Glasgow. Smyrna’s system is more advanced but Wilson had plenty of success at Glasgow.

He led the Dragons to an undefeated regular season last year and a Blue Hen Conference Flight B championship. During his three years as a started Wilson threw for more than 5,400 yards and had 42 touchdowns.

The fact that he arrived at Smyrna last school year helped Wilson with the adjustment period of learning Smyrna’s more complex system.

“I’ve been trying to watch film and study up since then,” he said. “It’s taken about six months but I’ve gotten almost everything down.”

Of course, Wilson has some big shoes to fill at Smyrna.

Its quarterback for the last three seasons was Henderson, the state Player of the Year in 2016 and now a quarterback at the University of Delaware.

“The hard part is trying to replace a good player like Nolan,” Wilson said. “But I can focus on what I do well instead of what he did and do my own thing.”

Judy is quick to say there’s no pressure on Wilson to do what Henderson did. They’re both different players who can do different things.

“I think it’s really important for everybody to know he’s not replacing anybody,” Judy said. “He’s going to be the best Isaiah Wilson he can be. We’re going to push him to be the best he can be and do what he does, not to try to fit him into the mold of somebody else.”

Like Henderson, though, Wilson has ambitions of playing in college.

He has an offer from Division I Bryant University along with a slew of Division II offers like West Virginia Wesleyan, Virginia State, Cheyney, Assumption, Millersville and Kutztown. Wilson also is attracting interest from Division I schools Holy Cross, Georgetown and Norfolk State.

Wilson’s tenure with the Eagles will begin with quite the matchup. They open at Middletown High on Friday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m., a rematch of last season’s state title game. His home debut will be a week later Sept. 15 against Franklin High of Maryland.

Wilson had a chance to attend some Smyrna home games last season. He’s said he’s been looking forward to taking the field in front of the home crowd for a long time.

“The atmosphere was crazy,” Wilson said. “I just can’t wait to play in that.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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