WINSLOW (N.J.) - Winslow Township High School senior Jimmy Wilson wants to major in communications in college.
It's a fitting area of study as Wilson has developed into a controlled, yet vociferous leader through the sport of football.
The senior transitioned from wide receiver to quarterback in the offseason to help alleviate a position of need. As a result, his leadership helped propel the Eagles (6-4 record) to their third consecutive winning season. The last time Winslow recorded three straight winning seasons was from 2002 to 2004.
"Jimmy always had it in him," Winslow coach Bill Belton said. "He's just somebody that is naturally a leader. Sometimes you have to try to pull it out of guys, make sure they're talking and communicating. But he's not one of those guys."
The senior threw a career-high five touchdown passes and completed 14 out of 20 pass attempts for 258 yards in his final interscholastic game as Winslow topped St. Joseph, 42-17, on November 23.
The victory offset a 29-6 loss to the Wildcats last season as Winslow rested most of its starters in preparation for the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 4 regional final at Rutgers University.
"It was really special," Wilson said. "Just thinking about last year how we came off a little sluggish, not playing all of our starters, kind of getting blown out in a way and coming back this year.
It felt special. Not just for me in my last one, but just for the whole team in general."
The senior's positional transition taught him a lot about himself. He discovered his ability to motivate teammates, and enhanced his adaptability to change by redirecting his approach to the season at a new location on the depth chart.
"It was more so (about) the development as a person," Wilson said. "Coming into (the season as a) quarterback, it wasn't just a new position. It was more so like a new lifestyle for me."
He was tasked with filling the void left by Hamas Duren. The 2021 South Jersey Sports Zone All-South Jersey First Team selection threw for 2,883 yards and scored 45 total touchdowns as the Eagles captured their first sectional title in program history.
Wilson was one of Duren's top targets. As a junior, he hauled in 36 receptions for 643 yards and nine touchdowns.
"Last year we had Hamas," Wilson said. "He was a great player on the field, great person overall. And it kind of shaped him into the person he is becoming now."
Wilson's high school voyage inaugurated 8.6 miles away at Timber Creek Regional High School in Erial. He attended the Black Horse Pike Regional School District-affiliated campus for two years and learned about the elements of discipline and maturity.
The two-sport athlete also shifted his focus from basketball to football after his freshman year.
After two seasons, Wilson transferred to Winslow. Belton immediately identified the junior's potential and talent. The former Penn State running back grew determined to put the athlete in positions to maximize team success.
"He's one of those guys you want kind of leading your program," Belton said. "That's a big testament to him and ultimately his parents. They raised a fine young man. He's really a reflection of them and a reflection of our program as well. I couldn't be more proud of him."
The quarterback position ultimately taught Wilson lessons that will translate to the next chapter of his life. Football permitted him to become a role model between the sidelines, throughout the hallways on Cooper Folly Road, and in the surrounding community.
He credits himself with remaining realistic and exerting a willingness to intervene in any instances of disarray.
"I feel like it'll trickle down into every thing I do," Wilson said. "If I'm working with a community, on the field, if I see something going on - I can say something because I'm more of a vocal leader and I'm not gonna hold back.
It's going to help me progress in college knowing that I have that mindset. I can pick up somebody as I'm doing my part, too."