On Tuesday morning, before the University of New Mexico football team began practice to prepare for No. 7-ranked (2-0) Texas A&M, quarterback Terry Wilson posted photos on Instagram of himself from a career-best performance on Saturday along with the message: “Put the city on my back!”
The Kentucky transfer has quickly established himself as a leader of the 2-0 Lobos and isn’t shying away from being the go-to guy for advice about playing at a big-time college football venue like A&M’s Kyle Field (capacity 102,733).
Wilson, who threw for a career-high 381 yards in a 34-25 win over rival New Mexico State and was named Mountain West Conference Player of the Week, went 17-8 as a starter with the Wildcats. That record includes ground-breaking wins at Florida and Tennessee. In 2018, Wilson and Kentucky took Texas A&M to overtime at Kyle Field, but the Aggies won 20-14.
“It was loud, a crazy atmosphere,” Wilson said of Kyle Field. “But you gotta love that atmosphere. That’s college football. You gotta be on point. Every play of the game. Just be free. Play free. Don’t think that all the pressure is on you. There’s a lot of people there, but who cares? It’s just part of the game. It’s just the little things I’ve been telling the team. Relax, play ball and have fun. You only get these type of opportunities once or maybe twice.”
When UNM coach Danny Gonzales was asked about Wilson’s Instagram message, the Lobos’ second-year head man said, “that’s awesome.”
“That’s a confident guy, believing in what he’s doing and believing in what we’re doing as a program,” Gonzales said. “People are gonna get tired of hearing me say it: We’re gonna paint this town cherry. We’re gonna be good.
“Sooner or later, you have to stop talking about ‘we’re going to,'” he added. “So we got guys with that mentality. That means we’re turning the corner. We still have a ways to go, but that’s the mentality you want them to have.”
Wilson said he wanted to go to a team that would showcase his passing ability after deciding to leave Kentucky and enter the transfer portal. He’s found that at UNM, where he has gained confidence in offensive coordinator Derek Warehime’s scheme. Wilson said he has found comfort and familiarity with Warehime, whose father, Nick, coached Wilson at Del City High in Oklahoma.
Wilson has thrown for 559 yards and six touchdowns without an interception this season. He’s been living up to his nickname: Terry Touchdown. The six touchdowns have been to six pass-catchers: tight ends Kyle Jarvis, Trace Bruckler and Connor Witthoft and wide receivers Keyonta Lanier, Andrew Erickson and Mannie Logan-Greene. Wilson was 26-for-37 against NMSU, completing passes 11 receivers. He recorded the most passing yards in a game for the Lobos since 2003.
“It’s been pretty smooth,” Wilson said of his time thus far with the Lobos. “It’s going good. We’re 2-0. That’s the biggest thing. We’re getting wins. Most importantly we’re actually having fun out there. … There are still things we need to clean up. But we’re having fun.”
In addition to his MWC honor, Wilson was named the Manning Award Quarterback of the Week for his performance against NMSU and after gaining more votes than seven other candidates in the Allstate Sugar Bowl Facebook contest.
Wilson acknowledged that he has been approached to profit from some name, image and likeness opportunities, but said he doesn’t like to talk about that. He’d rather talk football and the upcoming game.
“We’re the underdogs and I love that,” he said. “We have the opportunity to go in there and be able to showcase our skills in front of 100,000 people and show them what we can do.”