Local fans have long known about the abilities of Bryce Wilson on the football field for the Pawhuska High School Huskies.
That circle of believers was expanded last summer when Wilson participated in Football University’s Top Gun Camp, an intense training program for the ultra-elite of high school grid prospects from not only the U.S., but around the world.
"There were players there from Canada, England and Japan," said Wilson, a three-year Huskie starter known for great catches on offense and hard hits as a defender.
During two seasons at linebacker, Wilson played alongside his one-year older brother, Zak. Their bone-jarring tackles earned them notoriety as "The Bash Brothers" from local radio announcer Joe Tillman.
Last year as the Huskies evolved into more of a passing team (at the expense of his brother, the team’s premier running back), Bryce emerged as a sure-handed threat who would make catches all over the field — and under any circumstances.
Wilson earned the invitation for the FBU event by grading out near the top among hundreds of players who took part in a regional camp held earlier in the summer at Oklahoma City. The PHS senior-to-be was one of only a handful of wide receivers selected.
Some of the nation’s top professional coaches and several former players from the National Football League taught at the camp, which was held July 18-20 at Jerome High School in Dublin, Ohio. Among Wilson’s instructors was Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, the former NFL star of the Houston Oilers.
Just being invited to the event represented a significant honor. According to the FBU website: "Top Gun is not a regular camp. It is only for the best of the best. To be eligible, an athlete must be chosen from among the top 15 percent of athletes at his regional camp and be specifically invited by Football University.
"I heard several people at the camp say that Oklahoma City was considered to have been one of the tougher regionals," Wilson said.
In all, 750 athletes from high school grades nine through 12 attended the camp. All 50 states and five different countries were represented. Instruction was given over three consecutive days for a total of 18 hours and included both individual and position training. .
"There was a lot on technique," said Wilson. "I learned quite a bit about creating separation (with defenders) and I think that has made me more effective this year."
Pawhuska head coach Bob Craig said he and his staff are designing plays to insure that Wilson gets opportunities at making an impact on offense. Last week against Chouteau-Mazie, in addition to catching passes, he rushed the ball twice and had one long run negated by a penalty.
"Bryce has great instincts and excellent hand-eye coordination," said the Huskie head coach. "He has also shown incredible leaping ability."
Through the first seven games, Wilson has more than two dozen catches and five touchdowns. He also has intercepted three passes and recovered two fumbles.
Football University is owned and operated by All-American Games, which then produces the U.S. Army All-American Bowl — held this year at the AlamoDome in San Antonio.
"FBU was founded as a premier educational football camp for an elite class of football players who have already demonstrated their high-level football ability and seriousness for the game, and have chosen football as their primary sport," according to camp brochures.
"FBU is an invitation-only, one-of-a-kind football training experience focusing on developing and enhancing the playmaking ability and skill of elite-level athletes. "
More info can be found at www.footballuniversity.org