Hardcore SEC recruiting fans know about Marvin Wilson. They knew his name last year. The 6-foot-5 Texan is rated as the nation’s No. 1 defensive tackle for 2017, but not many know how he also slips his 310-pound frame into a choir robe for Episcopal School in Houston.
He sings but is far from a choirboy. The film of the nation’s No. 5 prospect just proves that. He’s a long way from figuring out his recruiting but knows he’ll be a U.S. Army All-American. Wilson also knows two SEC schools which will be in his final group. Those are Alabama and LSU.
“Those are going to be the two schools that will be there until the end,” Wilson said. “I already know that. I don’t have a set Top 5 or a Top 10, but if I did I know those two schools would be in there.”
He can be seen pumping up his team before kickoff, but deferred to his seniors this year despite his status as a national recruit. Yet sometime just before kickoff, he flips a switch.
“Then he becomes a hyped-up dude,” Episcopal coach Steven Leisz said. “He’s got a chant he does that is something like ‘Defense makes the crowd go oooooh’ and all that.”
Wilson came to Episcopal as a basketball player. He can dunk, but thinks he is still a point guard. Leisz calls him a converted basketball player. Wilson told SEC Country that he was ranked as the nation’s Top 100 basketball prospects when he was in the eighth grade. He still has a 27-inch vertical leap and plays for the varsity team.
“His hand-eye coordination is off the charts and it is still like he’s still that 6-foot-2, 250-pound basketball player we converted to a football player,” Leisz said.
Michigan and Ohio State were coming after him the hardest last season. LSU held that status among the SEC schools over the last four months. Alabama, Florida State, Oklahoma and USC are also all weighing in hard on him now.
Alabama is recruiting him to play the “5” technique, where he would line up on the outside shoulder of an offensive tackle. Most schools see him at the “3,” and that’s on the outside shoulder of the guard. Wilson thinks that will be his best spot, too.
“I really like the family environment at Alabama,” Wilson said. “It is like that home environment, but it is a united family environment because you know everybody hates Alabama because they win so much. If you don’t have it together, then you can’t succeed there. They grind it out together and work real hard to overcome all that stuff.”
His most interesting recruiting pitches have been from LSU defensive line coach Ed Orgeron.
“Coach Orgeron from LSU has come after my whole family,” Wilson said. “My brother and my sister and my mother. Talking to all of them. Whoever is a big factor in my life. He comes by trying to earn their approval, too.”
Wilson said he’s liked LSU since he was in the fourth grade, when his P.E. teacher, whose brother was a guard for the Tigers, told him about LSU’s famed “Death Valley” locale. Wilson’s been watching LSU football ever since. His mother is also from Louisiana.
Wilson aims to pursue a degree in broadcast journalism and eventually have his own radio show or a work as a football analyst for a major network. Ask him what he’d program on his talk show and he can fill up hours with hot takes.
The rising senior aims to be the nation’s No. 1 player, but feels many don’t understand how he can rank as one of the nation’s elite and still blend in among the choir.
“I don’t think people realize how humble I am because all they might see is a five-star ranking,” Wilson said. “I’m a regular person. I walk the halls of the school. My football status doesn’t make me any better than anyone else. I learned early on just because somebody has more money than us doesn’t make them better. It just makes them different. I put my pads and try to do my best like every other high school player in America. I put my own pants one leg at a time every day.”
Leisz echoes that. Wilson is at a school that rivals a college campus. His coursework might even surpass that of his freshman year of college. His time management and disciple are honed.
“Ask any of our faculty and they all come to me and say ‘My goodness. What a great kid’ and I tell you they all say that,” Leisz said. “When he first got here, he struggled a bit to keep up, but then we met with him and his Mom. She told us we can’t push him hard enough and then Marvin’s attitude every day since has been about what can he do each day to get better at everything.”
Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.