Larry Wilson is a name that the younger generation of Utah fans don't know. But it's one that they absolutely should.
Arguably the most talented football player to ever come out of the University of Utah — and who now sits in the NFL Hall of Fame, Wilson passed away last week at the age of 82.
Wilson was the first Ute to ever be enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame, being inducted in 1978.
How great was Wilson on the gridiron? He was inducted into the Hall of Fame despite never playing a down in the postseason.
“We are saddened to learn of the passing of Larry Wilson,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said in a statement. “He was an All-American as a two-way starter, and the first player from the University of Utah to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We mourn with his family and friends, and the entire Utah Football family.”
Wilson was chosen by the St. Louis Cardinals (now Arizona Cardinals) in the seventh round of the 1960 NFL draft. Although chosen as a halfback following an all-American season the year prior at Utah, Wilson changed to safety and the rest was history.
He played 13 seasons at safety and named to the All-Pro team six times (five first team nominations). He made eight Pro Bowls and finished with 52 career interceptions and 800 return yards.
Wilson's best season came in 1966 when he was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year after leading with 10 interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns — he had seven consecutive games with an interception.
His No. 8 is one of five numbers to be retired by the Cardinals organization.
“He was someone who truly lived his faith and demonstrated it daily in the kindness he showed every single person he met,” Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill said in a statement. “Any of us lucky enough to be in his orbit — whether that was for a few minutes or four decades — was always better off from the experience. I will remember Larry Wilson first as a fantastic person but then obviously as one of the greatest players the National Football League has ever seen.”
Wilson is a member of two of NFL's all-decade teams, making the first team in the 1960's and the second team in the 1970's.
As a Ute, Wilson was a two-way star from 1957-59, earning all-American honors in 1959. He finished his career with 230 carries for 1,220 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
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