Every dynasty has a beginning and John Parker Wilson was a part of the beginning of a dynasty for Alabama.
Since his senior season, the Crimson Tide has had 17 players drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft, and they have had at least one player drafted in the first round every year since then. Many of those players drafted have also had shiny rings on their right hand showing the numerous SEC and national championships they won during their time playing in Tuscaloosa.
Wilson was there for the beginning of all of it.
The former Alabama quarterback was Alabama head coach Nick Saban’s first signal caller for the Tide.
Wilson played two years for Saban and helped lead the Crimson Tide to an undefeated regular season and the school’s first No. 1 ranking since 1980. He also led the Crimson Tide to the SEC championship game before losing to Florida 31-20, and helped end a six-year losing streak to rival Auburn with a 36-0 victory against the Tigers in Tuscaloosa.
Wilson, who spoke at the Fort Payne First United Methodist Church on April 30, said he and every other player in his class feel a great sense of pride for laying the dynasty’s foundation.
“We only had like nine seniors in my class and it was tough, but that’s what it’s all about,” Wilson said. “We got to come in there and take the program from where it was, coming off probation, and start doing things the right way and I think they’ve been doing it ever since. Everyone has bought in and it’s shown in the success we’ve had.”
The UA DeKalb County Fans, Friends and Alumni chapter played host to its annual fundraiser for scholarships on April 30 and Wilson was the guest speaker.
Now that his four-year NFL career has ended he enjoys getting out and meeting and thanking the Alabama fans that supported his football career.
“You don’t get to see all of this when you’re playing,” Wilson said. “We’re kept so isolated and kept together that it’s cool to get out and see the people that used to come to games and watch us on TV and meet them face-to-face.”
The DeKalb County alumni chapter president Kay Holmes said he was a perfect speaker to help benefit the chapter’s cause of raising scholarship money for DeKalb County students interested in attending Alabama.
“It’s very cool to have a former NFL quarterback here to speak with us,” Holmes said. “We sold over 200 tickets and also had a silent auction. We had lots of support with this and it’s really helping us to expand countywide and not just be in Fort Payne. We want to welcome everyone that loves the University of Alabama and not just alumni.”
He was the beginning of a string of successful quarterbacks from Greg MCelroy, AJ McCarron and Blake Sims.
He said the continuance in the program and trusting the “process” is what’s led to the quarterback success.
“It’s guys being a part of the system for years and getting to see how to do things the right way and when you get out there you just step right in,” Wilson said. “It’s the system and it’s the process.”