New kid on the block

Following a long line of recruits, college interest surrounding the four star defensive end grows by the day.


via SMCHS Athletics

Carson Palmer, KJ Costello, Brett Neilon, Grant Calcaterra.  All blue-chip prospects out of high school. Now junior Derek Wilkins can add his name to that list too. The SMCHS defensive end has seen his recruitment skyrocket, going national.

After a solid sophomore campaign, Wilkins received his first offer unexpectedtly during the summer while visiting San Jose State.

“It felt great, it caught me off guard,” Wilkins said. “They told me and gave me an offer. It took me a while to process it. The opportunity to go to college for free is something a lot of people don’t get so it was really exciting.”

Since then, Wilkins has become a four-star prospect on both ESPN and 247sports, a major recruiting site, landing in the top 300 on both websites.

Wilkins transferred in after his freshman year. The difference between his former school, Woodbridge, and a private school was like night and day. Both on the field and off the field there were benefits that helped Wilkins excel.

He quickly formed tight bonds with coaches and players. Wilkins enjoyed the team-centric culture and appreciated the “no-quit” persona of his teammates.

“Coming in, I bonded instantly with Coach Onyegbule,” Wilkins said. “He and I have similar body types, and he went through the same process that I am currently going through and he made it to the league, so he understands the processes. A lot of teammates left and came,  I am really thankful for the ones who stayed because we really have made a tight core group of guys we can trust because they have been here through the good and bad times.

Recently, Wilkins has been offered by the University of Michigan and the University of Southern California, two historic college football programs that only offer elite-level players.

No matter how big or small the offer may be, Wilkins is always excited to receive a new offer because it represents all the hard work and time he has put in to get to a high level.

“It is super surreal; every offer does feel different because obviously its different schools,” Wilkins said.  “It’s really exciting and helps me open up a little bit more and to be able to go somewhere where I feel like I fit in the most.”

Through it all, Wilkins’ family has supported him and gone on the journey with him. His mother has never missed a visit and Wilkins maintains that the reason why he works so hard is for her and the rest of his family.

As Wilkins prepares for his senior season and the big decision in his future the exclusivity of his situation isn’t lost on him and he refuses to take it for granted.

“Work hard,” Wilkins said.  “There is always someone out there working harder than you, you can always go out there and work hard and be open to anything because obviously there is only a certain amount of spots at every level.”