CHINO HILLS >> The term “dual-threat quarterback” is a seemingly innocuous one that is commonly used when classifying college recruits.
But it’s one that Ayala junior Bryan Wilson would like to shed.
“I’m listed as a dual-threat. There’s a negative connotation with dual-threat, that he’s just for running, he can’t really pass. They’re not as smart,” Wilson said. “I feel that I need to go above and beyond with my passing: accuracy, strength and IQ.”
Ayala’ s Bryan Wilson makes a touchdown pass in front of Temescal Canyon tackle Adrian Ugalde in the second half of a non-league football game in Chino Hills on Thursday, March 18, 2021. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)
Ayala’s Bryan Wilson(#13), Marcus Monroe, (#6), celebrate after scoring a touchdown against Glendora, during Friday’s non-league game at Ayala High School in Chino Hills, Ca., April 9, 2021. (Contributing Photographer/John Valenzuela)
Ayala quarterback Bryan Wilson, (#3), avoids the tackle from Bonita’s Jacob Cordova, (#12) during Friday night’s Mountain West League football game at Ayala High School in Chino Hills, Ca., October 22, 2021. (Contributing Photographer/John Valenzuela)
Ayala’s Bryan Wilson, left celebrates with Marcus Monroe catching a touchdown catch against Temescal Canyon in the first half of a non-league football game in Chino Hills on Thursday, March 18, 2021. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)
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“When people ask me what kind of quarterback I am, (I say) ‘I’m just a quarterback.’ A quarterback’s job is to do whatever the offense needs him to do to win.”
A junior season is often the key one for football recruiting and Wilson, who started each of the last two years, will have more on his shoulders than last year.
“I think the passing game will be more dynamic (this year),” said Ayala coach A.J. Gracia, a former Chino High quarterback. “He’ll have multiple options in the passing game. Now we can put the offense on his back. The key is being efficient this year.”
The 6-foot, 205-pound Wilson didn’t start out as a quarterback.
“My first position was running back,” Wilson said. “Our quarterback got hurt, broke his wrist when I was 10, 11. They put me in the quarterback position and I just loved it.”
Two years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic might have helped his transition to high school football. The fall 2020 season was pushed to the spring of 2021, giving Wilson more time to prepare. Although the season was shortened and there no playoffs, Ayala went 5-0 and was considered one of the top teams in the area.
“I had heard about him. I knew he had tremendous skill as an incoming freshman and I could quickly see he could handle being a varsity-level quarterback,” Gracia said.
But with an experienced offensive line and running game, Wilson wasn’t asked to do a lot.
Last year, Gracia felt the receiving corps was too inexperienced to really open up the passing game.
Wilson still had a solid season, completing 87 of 169 passes for 1,264 yards, 16 touchdowns and five interceptions in 10 games. He also had the third-most rushing attempts on the team, rushing 52 times for 160 yards and four touchdowns.
But his season didn’t end the way he wanted. During the final game of the regular season (a win over Charter Oak), he broke his collarbone as the team finished the regular season 9-1 but Wilson missed his chance to play in the playoffs for the first time. Ayala lost to Foothill in the CIF-SS Division 3 first round.
“The injury, it sucked. But I tried not to get too down,” he said.
The injury to the right-handed Wilson was to his right collarbone and sidelined him until February. But he has no restrictions now.
“I want to show I can consistently complete every single ball,” he said. “I can make any throw possible with my arm. I want to throw for at least 2,500 yards. I want to have a good amount of rushing yards. Most importantly, I want to win.”
All of those goals are within reach with Ayala’s experienced offensive line and receiving corps this season.
Wilson’s father Kevin, who played defensive back at Ganesha, is Black and his mother Rupali is Indian. He know it’s a diverse lineage.
“It’s cool to be mentioned like that, but it’s not really at the forefront of my mind,” he said.
Academics are a huge part of his life. He carries a 4.1 GPA. Schools such as Texas A&M and Florida State are interested in him, but has interest in other schools that are well-known for their academics.
“The ones I’m focusing on are UCLA, UC Berkeley, Northwestern, Duke, North Carolina, some of those top-notch academic programs,” he said.
If he has that breakout season as expected, he might have his pick of any of those schools.
— PETE MARSHALL
15 MORE QUARTERBACKS TO WATCH THIS SEASON
Trevin Adams, CSDR: Threw 51 touchdowns and rushed for 24 TDs during his junior season.
Daniel Andrade, Bonita: Finished his junior season with 2,386 passing yards and 32 touchdowns.
Koa Apana, Temescal Canyon: Fourth-year starter has more than 4,500 career passing yards.
Izzy Carter and Carson Conklin, Centennial: The two seniors combined for 34 total touchdowns in 2021.
Christopher Cooper, Beaumont: Passed for 3,610 yards and 35 touchdowns as a sophomore.
Landon Debruyn, Rancho Verde: The senior has thrown for 2,314 yards over 12 career starts.
Dereun Dortch, San Jacinto: Threw for 21 touchdowns and only two interceptions as a junior.
Erick Harrison, Montclair: Finished junior season with 2,608 passing yards and 23 touchdowns.
Hunter Herrera, Citrus Valley: Had spectacular start to junior season before suffering an injury.
Martinez Miles, Cajon: Passed for 1,764 yards and 20 touchdowns in his sophomore season.
Dre Robles, Aquinas: Threw for 2,120 yards and 20 touchdowns during his junior campaign.
C.J. Tiller, Rancho Cucamonga: The Boise State commit is a highly-rated transfer from Arizona.
Dominic Tubbs, Santiago: Threw for 2,427 yards and 26 touchdowns during his junior season.
Julian Viramontes, Roosevelt: Finished junior season with 2,263 yards and 18 touchdowns.
— ERIC-PAUL JOHNSON