BYU football vs. UCF in 2020 Boca Raton Bowl

BYU junior quarterback Zach Wilson stands on the sideline during the 49-23 Cougar win over UCF in the 2020 Boca Raton Bowl at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida, on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020.

When BYU quarterback Zach Wilson nears the end zone on many of his touchdown runs he likes to do a little hop, almost a prance, as he reaches his goal.

You’d play with that much joy too if you were in his shoes.

Wilson likely played his last game in a BYU uniform on Tuesday, leading the Cougars to a 49-23 victory against Central Florida in the Boca Raton Bowl.

In the first half alone Wilson was 17 of 21 for 330 yards and three touchdowns while running for two more and led the Cougars to a 49-10 lead early in the third quarter.

Talk about a cheat code.

During the game, memes were popping up all over social media picturing Wilson in a New York Giants uniform, or a Detroit Lions uniform, or (insert eye roll here) a New York Jets uniform.

Shoot, it seems like he just got started in Provo and now we see him likely riding off into the sunset.

Let’s have the whole team do a little dance shall we? BYU finished 2020 with an 11-1 record and was the talk of college football for almost three months. From this summer when even having a season was in doubt to a bowl win, it was a pretty amazing year for the Cougars, even if the college football playoff committee refused to acknowledge it.

Looking back, there was a lot of doom and gloom surrounding college sports during the throes of the coronavirus this summer. Power 5 leagues were shutting down and cancelling non-conference games, which led to BYU Director of Athletics Tom Holmoe waving his magic wand and creating an entirely new schedule for the Cougars to play. I have to admit, it was a pretty good feeling to be allowed in the press box at LaVell Edwards Stadium for that first home game against Troy.

And that’s not just the Tucanos talking.

Right now, it’s time to appreciate Wilson’s journey, which has been well documented. From his prolific stint as a high school quarterback at Corner Canyon to Kalani Sitake swooping in to steal him away from Boise State, we could all see the baby-faced Wilson had a ton of potential. He took over for Tanner Mangum midway through the 2018 season and performed well with a few ups and downs. His astonishing perfect day in the Idaho Famous Potato Bowl gave another glimpse at his ability.

As a junior in 2019 he led the Cougars to thrilling wins against Tennessee and USC but an injury — which occurred because he was trying to make a tackle after an interception — slowed his progress.

In 2020, Wilson was finally healthy. His offensive line was one of the country’s best and he found a great groove with his receivers. Tyler Allgeier and Lopina Katoa provided a potent running game and even though Wilson lost All-American tight end Matt Bushman before the season to injury freshman Isaac Rex stepped up and became a real weapon.

Combine that with an offensive coaching staff finding its stride and you have one of the best seasons ever for a BYU quarterback. It measures up with the best and Wilson is in the top 10 all-time in many categories.

BYU fans would still like to see what a healthy Wilson could do against a typical independent schedule with five or six Power 5 teams and that would really be the only reason why he would bypass entering the NFL Draft to come back for his senior year. The brotherhood is strong, but playing in the NFL is a childhood dream for any college football player. Wilson will likely be one of the top two or three quarterbacks picked in June.

He should go.

What makes Wilson a good NFL prospect? It’s a lot more than than just the numbers, which are impressive. His arm is strong enough to make any throw. He’s athletic so if things break down he can make something happen. He’s a hard worker and a great leader.

He’s going to make some NFL head coach really happy.

If you’re a BYU fan you can be a little sad he’s probably gone but it appears the Cougars are in good shape at the quarterback spot. Whether its Jaren Hall — get healthy, would you, dude? — Baylor Romney, Jacob Conover or Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters, they will have plenty of good talent to work with in 2021.

Let’s spice things up with a honest-to-goodness quarterback derby next summer.

Meanwhile, Wilson can provide BYU fans yet another pro football player to cheer for on Sundays, joining Taysom Hill, Dan Sorensen, Fred Warner and Kyle Van Noy.

Let the offseason speculation begin, but be sure to spend a few moments enjoying what 2020 became for Wilson and the Cougars.

It was special.

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter

@darnellwrites or e-mail him at ddickson@heraldextra.com.

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