Here’s the recommendation from Zach Wilson’s head coach at BYU, to any and all NFL general managers desperate for a franchise quarterback:
“Draft him, and find out,” Kalani Sitake told The Post. “I recruited him, and I recruited him late, and it’s one of the best decisions I ever made. … I’m excited to see where the next stop’ll be for him, because I think he’ll do really, really well there.”
I’m looking at you, Joe Douglas.
Since Douglas and the Jets own the second-overall pick in the NFL draft, I asked whether Zach Wilson would have the right temperament for the New York market — in the event that the Texans refuse to trade Deshaun Watson, in the event that the Jets favor Wilson over Justin Fields, in the event that the Jets decide to trade Sam Darnold to reset the financial quarterback clock, in the event Jaguars coach Urban Meyer is not one of the unnamed decision-makers who supposedly prefers Wilson over Trevor Lawrence.
“I think he’ll be fine,” Sitake said. “He’s not gonna worry about the naysayers. There’s always gonna be doubters, and he’s proven a lot of doubters wrong. But he’s not gonna worry about that stuff, he’s just gonna go out and work hard and do his best, and then he’s gonna have a smile on his face, he’ll handle any kind of pressure that’s thrown at him, and he’s gonna make the most of it.
“He has this great presence of gratitude and appreciation to everyone that has sacrificed and have helped him get to where he’s at. And so when he gets out there, any fan base that gets him, he’s gonna appreciate that fan base, and he’ll do everything he can to make them happy. That’s just his demeanor. I don’t know any other way to explain it, but basically what you see is what you get, and he’s a good genuine person and he’s gonna be just fine regardless of the market, whether it’s a large city or a smaller place.”
Pete Carroll cautioned back in 2009 that Mark Sanchez might have been better served staying another year at USC, but virtually every college head coach trumpets the beautiful music his quarterback can play in the NFL. Or have you forgotten Clemson coach Dabo Swinney warning NFL teams they would be passing up Michael Jordan if they passed on Watson?
The challenge of making the Jets’ fan base happy is a gargantuan one after all the cruel teases it has endured post-Joe Namath. That covers a mere five-plus decades.
Jets fans begin hyperventilating when they read that Wilson has drawn comparisons to Aaron Rodgers as a thrower of the football.
“I don’t know if you can compare it to Aaron Rodgers. I know he loves the way Aaron Rodgers plays, and idolizes the way he plays,” Sitake said. “He studies a lot of quarterbacks that play in the league right now. The guy’s a very, very advanced student of the game.”
It’s not by accident.
“On a football field, he’s a guy that could easily be a coach right now,” Sitake said. “You want a guy to be highly competitive, but not a lot of people are willing to sacrifice and put in the time to prepare like he is.
“Imagine a player who loves the game of football and when I’m working late nights, he’s here as well,” Sitake added. “And then when I’m watching film, he’ll come in and watch film with the coaching staff and hang out. He lives for ball, that’s what he does, and he’s a great student of the game, and his work ethic’s unbelievable, and his teammates love him.
“Beyond that, he finds time outside of his responsibilities in football as a student to serve others and to help uplift people’s lives, and reaches out to fans that are struggling and those that are having gone through some hardships, he’s gonna be that guy that’s gonna reach out and try to make the community better with his service. He knows that he has a platform, and he’s gonna utilize every way to make people smile.”
Of course, Bobby Bonilla didn’t think Mets fans could knock the smile off his face, so there’s that. Wilson’s hometown, Draper, Utah, is a long way from the Big Apple.
“I don’t think he’s a guy that gets overly excited. … I don’t think he’s gonna be a guy that’s gonna be … the moment’s too big for him, but I also think that he has control over his emotions,” Sitake said. “There’s times that he can be fired up, there’s times that he can get the guys to rally around him, and then there’s times he can put his arm around you and talk to you that way.”
Sitake doesn’t have one favorite Zach Wilson pass.
“You look at his incompletions that were thrown deep and some of the incompletions that we had, I thought he put the ball in a pretty good spot,” Sitake said. “He had three interceptions, one of ’em was on a Hail Mary at the end of the half. I think if you look at the deep ball that he throws, not a lot of guys can do that.”
I asked the coach if his quarterback’s accuracy (33 touchdowns, three interceptions, 10 rushing TDs) was his best trait.
“To ask me what his best trait is, that’s a difficult question to answer ’cause I think he’s got everything you need in a quarterback — he’s got the work ethic, the IQ, the study habits, the knowledge of the game, he has a presence, the demeanor and the arm strength, then he’s got the leg strength and ability to create space and use his athleticism,” Sitake said.
“He connects well with his teammates, connects well with the fans, connects well with his coaches,” Sitake said. “Great leader, guy that we can always count on … but he was doing that since he got here. When he came as a true freshman, he was already a born leader.”
“Yeah, he had 10 rushing touchdowns,” Sitake said, and laughed. “There were times I saw him play, and I thought he could play safety, he’s got enough speed and athleticism to do that. I think he’s the whole package.
“I think the team that drafts him’s gonna be very lucky to him.”
Are you listening, Joe Douglas?