In our sixteenth installment in this series, we were able to catch up with former Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson. To get the complete interview, click here:
The dream to one day play football for The University of Alabama is a dream for kids throughout the state of Alabama as well as the nation. However, to be the face of the program and have the title of quarterback is a rare feat only a handful can say they’ve achieved.
John Parker Wilson is a name Alabama fans hold close to their hearts due to his sheer competitive nature and the ability to transcend the position during a time it needed it the most. As a three-year starter at Hoover High School in Birmingham, Alabama, Wilson was a standout two-sport athlete in which he excelled on the gridiron as well as the baseball field. While other schools tried to lure Wilson away with promises to play both sports in college, the desire to one day suit up for the Tide was too much to deny the lifelong Alabama fan his dream of playing quarterback for his childhood team.
To be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Joe Namath and Kenny Stabler, quarterbacks at Alabama have to strive to do something special during their years in crimson. Wilson was not considered a top quarterback prospect nationally like his predecessor Brodie Croyle, but as his successor, he did something that was needed for Alabama fans during a dark period in history.
In 2004, Wilson arrived as a freshman and redshirted his first year. However, he never had plans to sit and wait for his chance too long and had the mindset to immediately begin to prepare himself to one day be the starter. He gave fans a preview during his first spring practice in 2005 as Croyle was still recovering from a knee injury he sustained the previous fall. While competing against what would be one of the greatest defenses in Alabama history, Wilson ended the game receiving the Dixie Howell Memorial Award for the game’s most outstanding player.
This game set the precedent for Wilson and had to have given him confidence knowing he could handle the job when his time came. He got that chance the following year after Croyle departed and while he had his growing pains, he had some flashes of greatness that gave Tide fans hope for his and the program’s future.
One of those moments manifested itself when the Tide travelled to Fayetteville, Arkansas to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks, which happened to be Wilson’s first SEC road game as a starter. Somebody obviously forgot to remind him of this as he turned in quite possibly the finest game of his career in a 16-20, 243 yards passing and three touchdowns performance that almost gave the Tide enough to win a tough matchup.
The symbolism with this game was Alabama in the 2000’s had so many issues with the quarterback position starting with the Andrew Zow/Tyler Watts controversy, which led to the Tyler Watts/Brodie Croyle controversy. While Croyle was a staple in the position, his health came into play many times and others tried to fill-in but were unsuccessful.
Wilson however, was the glue.
From 2006-2008, Alabama was able to build around Wilson and his leadership. He never missed a start and his leadership allowed him to mentor other quarterbacks on the roster which carried a trickle-down effect for subsequent years after.
In 2008, Wilson helped orchestrate one of the most memorable seasons for Alabama in recent years with leading them to a 12-0 regular season record and snapping a six-year losing streak to the Auburn Tigers in a way that caused then-coach Tommy Tuberville to be ran out of town after the 36-0 thrashing the Tide put on him and the Tigers.
While Wilson’s 2008 team came up short of a BCS title, his steadfastness made a way for Greg McElroy to step right in and lead them the following year. The sustained stability in the position also allowed McElroy, who was a 5th-year senior to do what Wilson did for him to A.J. McCarron, who led the Tide to back-to-back titles in 2011-12.
While Wilson may not receive his just dues from the new generation of Alabama fans, he is filled with pride knowing he was apart of a group that helped pave the way for the success Alabama received immediately after his departure. According to Wilson, “It was good helping turn things around and being there when it first started. A lot of time and effort went into that and we graduated with like 9 seniors. We kinda got Alabama back in the right direction. It’s special to be able to say that.”
It is special. The values taught by parents and mentors are what ultimately shape us as individuals in life. What Wilson was able to do for Alabama won’t show up in the record books, but for those fans who truly appreciate the struggle — they will openly express their gratitude of a job well done by Wilson and the other players who stood the test of time and played for something bigger than themselves.
After a short stint in the NFL, Wilson is back in Birmingham working as a Financial Advisor for Stifel. His leadership skills and work ethic obtained by suiting up for the Tide have afforded him the opportunity to assist families and businesses in the Birmingham area. Based on his time at Alabama, it’s no surprise Wilson chose a career dedicated to servicing and helping others. That’s exactly what he did at Alabama — he just didn’t know it then.