For Einstein senior running back, first football season is ‘dream come true’
by Dan Feldman
Albert Einstein High School senior Khalil Wilson stood in front of his closet the morning of Aug. 31, deciding what to wear to school. After about 15 minutes, he said he noticed his football jersey out of the corner of his eye.
“Oh, this is what I’m supposed to wear,” Wilson said to himself. “It’s game day. It felt like a dream come true.”
Wilson is playing for the high school football team for the first time, joining Einstein after grades kept him out previously. In three games, Wilson has scored four touchdowns and rushed for 546 yards — 143 against Seneca Valley, 101 against Wheaton and a whopping 302 against Rockville on Friday. He is currently Montgomery County’s leading rusher.
“I don’t go down very easy,” Wilson said.
No, he doesn’t.
Wilson always enjoyed going to Einstein football games to watch his brother play, but he dreaded the question he’d inevitably face:
Why aren’t you playing?
“Not only did they ask me, people would ask my father or my mother,” Wilson said.
Letting down family and friends hurt, Wilson said, but he didn’t know how to get on the right track. Sometimes, he thought he was too far behind to even try to become eligible.
Einstein coach Jermaine Howell first heard of Wilson “because of the things he probably shouldn’t have been doing.” Wilson admits he used to be “a failure kid in school and always getting in trouble.”
But they talked last December, developing a plan for Wilson to perform better in school.
“He’s resilient,” Howell said. “He can do what he wants to do when he sets his mind to it.”
Howell, of course, had another reason he wanted Wilson to improve his grades.
“That’s an athlete that just doesn’t come through your school every year,” Howell said.
Wilson became eligible for the start of this season, but he missed Einstein’s first few practices of the season for a previously scheduled family reunion.
Howell and Wilson again spoke about commitment, and Wilson left the reunion earlier than planned. But because Wilson still missed practices and had no experience to fall back on, Howell wasn’t sure the 5-foot-9, 215-pounder would start at running back.
Now, there’s no doubt that not only is Wilson the top running back for Einstein, he’s one of the top running backs in Montgomery County.
“I like the kid,” Howell said. “I like the fact that he does have a little attitude, a little chip on his shoulder about things. He’s fun to watch, and he’s great to talk to. But he hasn’t always been at that point. Several teachers and administrators could tell you that. We like his change.”
Wilson’s change has come so suddenly and so late in his high school career, he’s still mostly an unknown. He laughed when someone on a local high school sports Internet message board speculated he had transferred from Texas.
Unfortunately, being a mystery isn’t always so funny.
Wilson said he thinks every day about playing college football, but he knows it won’t be easy. No college coach had heard of him until this season, and his cumulative grade-point average is still held back by his earlier years.
“I think I can overcome it,” Wilson said.