2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Eric Wilson, OG, Harvard
- Name: Eric Wilson
- Height: 6’4”
- Weight: 310 lbs
- Position: OG
- College: Harvard University
- Twitter: @ejwilson38
Tell us about your university/college. Did you participate in any other activities or campus organizations other than football?
Harvard has been an amazing experience both academically and athletically. I love being around Boston with so many things to do and other colleges around us. Outside of football, I am Vice President of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. Additionally, I helped cofound a group called Humans of Harvard College, in which we take the idea of Humans of New York and apply it to Harvard College (interviewing random members of the Harvard community and displaying their life stories for other members of the community to read). I have also been helping as a research assistant in Professor Dan Gilbert’s Social Psychology Lab for the past 2 years.
How did you end up at Harvard?
I ended the recruiting process in April of my junior year of high school. I had offers from all types of schools: from the BIG 10 to the MAC and the Ivy League. Ultimately, I visited Harvard and spent a considerable amount of time with the guys on the team and saw it as a perfect fit for myself culture-wise. Once I knew how much I loved it in Cambridge and as a part of the Harvard football culture, I did not want to continue the recruiting process and so made my decision as soon as I could.
What do your teammates say is your best quality?
My teammates would say my best quality is leading by example on the field and creating a fun environment within the o-line room. It has been a goal of my class in the o-line room to make it a place where younger teammates feel they can ask questions and be part of the process as much as the older guys. Yes, they know it may come with a little ribbing, but they know it’s all from a place of love for each other and what we do together.
What kind of role do you see yourself in on the team? What scheme and/or position suits your skill set?
I see myself as a sturdy, thick, and mobile guard who can mold to fit any offense. Pulling has been a strong suit of mine in both the run and pass game these past few years and has definitely helped to display my versatility as a mobile lineman.
Who is the best player you have ever played against in college?
The best player I played against was a defensive lineman from Harvard named Stone Hart who played his last season in 2018. He was a big run stopping interior lineman who was definitely the strongest player I’ve played against. My sophomore season was his 5th year senior season, and so I had the opportunity to learn from mistakes that he would easily take advantage of in practice. Going against him every day was in large part what I consider to be the reason I grew so much during that sophomore season.
Which one of your teammates impresses you the most?
My teammate that impresses me the most is my left tackle and roommate James Lee. Freshman year he came in as a lighter tackle and worked tremendously hard to put on almost 60 pounds during our time at school. He also has to be the grittiest weight room guy I have ever seen in terms of straining to get extra reps. He has put in so much extra work both in and out of the weight room to better himself that it is inspiring to strive for that work ethic.
Describe a time in your life when you were able to overcome a struggle.
A struggle that may seem relatively insignificant but impacted me greatly was when I was auditioning for a solo in a choir concert. Growing up, I was in a choir called the Minnesota Boychoir. We traveled to places like Spain, France, Italy, Vatican City, Alaska, and Texas to sing tours of different concerts.
When I was in the 5th grade I auditioned for a solo and did not get the part. It crushed me at the time, but inspired me to work harder on my craft. Seven years later the same song was on our list of songs to learn for the year. I auditioned for the same solo and went on to sing the solo on my senior tour in Spain. This was a defining moment for me personally because it proved that with enough hard work, focus, and dedication, you can overcome any critique someone may have for you.
What is something that you are most proud of? What would you say is your biggest achievement?
Something I am most proud of was to be named preseason All-Ivy and preseason All-American by Phil Steele. It is a great feeling to have a lot of years of hard work and dedication be recognized by a prominent name in the football world. My biggest achievement was beating Yale my sophomore year at Fenway Park in front of a sold-out crowd. Going to an Ivy League school, you may not always get the feeling of a truly big-time game. But, being at Fenway Park in front of a sold out stadium and pulling through with a great team victory was an incredible feeling.
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Describe one of the most memorable plays of your collegiate career.
In the last game of my sophomore year, we were playing Yale at Fenway Park in front of a sell-out crowd. We started to take control of the line of scrimmage in the fourth quarter and began to pound the rock play after play. I was on the back side combo block of an inside zone play, came off to a linebacker, and our running back sprung free to the second level. He blew by the defense and was on his way to the end zone where we were all chasing after him. Before he crossed the goal line, he gave the Yale secondary a Mutumbo finger-wag. The refs mistook it for something obscene and called the touchdown back. This is memorable to me not only because of how crazy it was, but also because it was a defining moment for our o-line. Instead of getting upset at something out of our control, we came back and continued to run the ball until we scored again a few plays later and won the game 45-27.
If you didn’t play football, what other sport would you play?
If I didn’t play football I would throw shot put and discus. In high school, I got a late start to throwing, but quickly began throwing with a group of future Division 1 throwers twice a week and improving rapidly. The community of track and field teams is something I love, and it would definitely be one of my main interests if I did not play football. My personal bests were 57′ 4.5″-shot put and 165′ 5″ in the discus.
What was your major/minor? Other than football, what would be your dream job?
I major in Psychology with minors in Islamic Studies and Spanish. Besides playing in the NFL, a dream job for me would be as a Psychology professor. As I have been an RA in one of the leading social psychology labs for 2 years, I would love to pursue a PhD in psychology with the hopes of being a professor in the future.
What have you been working on in the off-season?
In the offseason I have been working on a lot of foot quickness, short-distance speed drills paired with pass-pro drills. There are some local college football players I have done turf workouts with (at a distance) to add a competitive aspect to a lot of drills I could otherwise be doing alone.
Do you have a favorite athlete or professional team? Is there a player that you model your game after?
Whenever I watch a football game I am always focusing on and drawn to the interior linemen. Personally, my favorite player to watch the last few years has been Quenton Nelson. Watching the tenacity and speed with which he plays is something I definitely have tried to model my game after.
What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies? Do you have any secret talents?
As I said earlier, I help a lot as a research assistant in Dan Gilbert’s Social Psychology Lab. I have been in the lab for 2 years and it’s definitely become a passion of mine. I also co-founded a group called Humans of Harvard College with one of my roommates from my freshman year. It is designed to mimic the popular social media campaign, “Humans of New York”. Through social media, we attempt to share the stories of Harvard students so that the world can see how so many people from such diverse backgrounds have come together to make life at harvard such a unique experience.
As far as secret talents go, I was a member of the Minnesota Boychoir from my 3rd grade through my senior year of high school. As a group, we toured and traveled around the country and the world to places like Italy, Spain, France, Alaska, Texas, and many more. I sing Baritone and still come out of retirement for any o-line or team talent contests.
Why do you play football?
I play football due to a passion and love for the game I developed as a small kid. My dad was recruited to play at West Point, my Uncle was recruited to play at Harvard, my Grandpa played on the 150 lbs. squad at Navy, and my other Grandpa is in the Minnesota High School Hall of Fame as a football coach. Football is something that has been ingrained in me by generations of family and has turned into something that not only my family loves to watch, but something I love to do.
Who or what motivates you the most?
My teammates definitely motivate me the most. To me, there is no greater feeling than playing well for the sake of helping out the guy next to you on the field. I have been part of some very close-knit o-line groups and can say that when I am working hard in the offseason with them, there is nothing more I want than to perform well with and for those same teammates when it begins to count during the season.