ECU's Wilson honored|Tabbed C-USA preseason Defensive Player of the Year

Published 9:38 am Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sports Editor

C.J. Wilson is expecting to have a big season. The 12 Conference USA football coaches are thinking the same thing.
Wilson, a defensive end with the East Carolina Pirates, was tabbed the 2009 C-USA preseason Defensive Player of the Year. The preseason team was released by C-USA officials on Tuesday.
“I thank God for my opportunities,” Wilson said. “Receiving the award and recognizing me means a lot.
“From where I came from to where I am now, as a player and a person, I have to give credit where credit is do. I give credit to my coaches, my teammates and my family.”
The 6-4, 271-pound Wilson, who wears No. 95, had a solid 2008 season, where he led the Pirates with 10.5 sacks (for 61 yards in loss) and 18.5 tackles-for-loss (for 84 yards). He also recorded 70 tackles, five quarterback hurries, one forced fumble and one blocked kick.
The Northside High School graduate, who was named the 2008 Conference USA Defensive Most Valuable Player by Sporting News Magazine, said each of his coaches has helped shape him into the football player he is today.
“Coach (Skip) Holtz, coach (Greg) Hudson, coach (Vernon) Hargreaves, coach (Rock) Roggeman and coach (Mike) Golden all bring something to the table,” said Wilson, who earned C-USA First Team honors by league coaches and by Phil Steele Magazine last year. Additionally, Wilson was named to the 2008 All C-USA First Team.
“I wouldn’t be here today without them,” Wilson said. “Each has helped me out.”
Wilson, who helped the Pirates win a C-USA championship last year, knows the preseason honor could be motivation for his opponents.
“I know that it creates a big target on my back,” Wilson said. “I have to be ready mentally and physically, but I know I can handle the pressure. It just brings more pressure to me, but I’ll be ready.”
Wilson, who has 21.5 sacks, 35 tackles-for-loss, 21 quarterback hurries and 133.5 tackles in his career, is anxious for the season to start. The Pirates kick off the 2009 season Sept. 5 at home against Appalachian State.
“I’m ready,” said Wilson, who has been named to the 2009 Rotary Lombardi Award preliminary watch list. “You know me; I’m ready to go.”
Wilson was joined by four other Pirates on the preseason list. Also on the team are offensive lineman Sean Allen, linebacker Nick Johnson, safety Van Eskridge and kicker Ben Hartman.