Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: The most amazing guy playing high school football?
ROCKWALL – Reese Wilson turned 18 on Tuesday, but he didn’t have big party plans. The Rockwall-Heath cornerback planned to take it easy, which is something he doesn’t do very often.
“I can’t stand being idle,” he said. “I get bored.”
That’s obvious in what the senior accomplished in his first 17 years and 364 days. He climbed to No. 1 in the Rockwall-Heath Class of 2014, earned a perfect score on the math section of the SAT and was named a National Merit Semifinalist. He was selected as the class president and the homecoming king, he was a standout delegate in the statewide Youth and Government program, and he went on nearly a dozen church mission trips.
And that was after Wilson, who has 14 tackles, a forced fumble and a pass breakup this season for Rockwall-Heath (4-1), decided to slow down a bit. A couple of years ago, he told his parents that he was ready to retire from modeling and acting.
Wilson, whose older brother Charlie played safety for Rockwall-Heath and is a now a medical student at UT-Houston, did modeling work for companies such as Dillard’s and J.C. Penney. He was also in several commercials, but his biggest acting credit is his three-year run as Ryan, in which he went on adventures with a famous purple dinosaur.
Yeah, Wilson was on “Barney & Friends.” So was his older sister, Molly, who is now a freshman at Dallas Baptist.
“In fourth grade, I was an extra on Barney, and that kind of led to where I was a principal character with lines and everything,” Wilson said. “I remember that experience like it was yesterday.”
Wilson gets some good-natured ribbing about his role on Barney & Friends. He’s also teased about looking so young in the Sylvan Learning Center commercial that was filmed six years ago but is still airing.
“Everyone always asks me, ‘Did you actually go to Sylvan?’” Wilson said. “No, I just did the commercial for them.”
Learning wasn’t a problem for Wilson, whose top three college choices are Rice, Vanderbilt and Duke. He hasn’t decided on a major, but he’s interested in both law and engineering. Rockwall-Heath coach Mickey Moss describes Wilson as “an amazing young man.”
As a football player, Wilson won’t be called amazing. But considering everything else that crowds his schedule, his commitment to the sport is impressive. Wilson is only 5-8 and 170 pounds and he didn’t play much last season. He could’ve dropped football and still stayed very busy.
That would’ve been fine with his parents, Leslie and Bret Wilson.
“A lot of parents try to get their kids moving,” Leslie Wilson said. “We are the exact opposite. We say, ‘You need to rest. You need some down time.’ But he does seem to know himself very well.”
And for Reese Wilson, football was just another challenge. It was also fun getting to play with the friends he has known longer than Barney.
“He’s worked so hard to get stronger and faster,” Moss said. “He’s always been one of the smallest, but he’s got the biggest fight.”
This season, Wilson is a starter. It’s another achievement he can add to the script of his first 18 years.
“I don’t know,” Wilson said. “I don’t really see them as achievements. I just try to do my best, no matter what I’m doing.”
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter @mattwixon.