Eric Wilson Another Product from Cincinnati Aiming for Success with Eagles

The linebaker, who signed a one-yer deal, will follow in the footsteps of some of the organization's best players who were former Bearcats
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The University of Cincinnati has been kind to the Eagles.

It has given them some of the best players in their history, from Trent Cole to Brent Celek to Jason Kelce.

All of them were drafted by the Eagles.

Even when they tapped into the Bearcats program in free agency it paid off handsomely, with the signing of Connor Barwin in 2013. Barwin became one of the more popular players during his four years in Philadelphia, collecting 31.5 sacks in that time, and is now learning the front office ropes within the organization.

So, here the Eagles go again, tipping their toes back into Ohio waters with last week’s signing of linebacker Eric Wilson, who met the Eagles’ media on Tuesday evening.

“I love the city,” said Wilson when asked why he agreed to sign only a one-year contract. “My teammates, I have a lot of great teammates, and the coaching staff is absolutely tremendous, a lot of great people and great teachers and they’re all passionate for the game.

“We all love the game and truly want to be at our best. I greatly appreciate that environment, and I love to be in that environment to thrive … The management is great management, and they’re really passionate.

“The fans are tremendous, and they show that passion and love and support each and every day. I love to be in that environment, and I love to interact with my coaches and my teammates and improve each other and our games. I’m excited for the opportunity.”

Wilson, 26, certainly said all the right things that could make him a fan favorite.

Of course, his play will matter, too.

There’s no doubt, though, he has an underdog’s story.

He was a surprise roster keep by Vikings coach Mike Zimmer when he arrived undrafted out of Cincinnati and played special teams as a rookie.

He may have gone undrafted due to his size, which is listed now at 6-1, 230 pounds.

“I don’t have any deficiencies,” he said. “I know that I’m a very fast player. I utilize my speed. I utilize my strength, and I play very well against the run and the pass. In the matchup game, I match up tremendously.

“I’m very versatile as a player. I’m a smart player, too, so I do a lot of work on truly understanding the game and improving my football IQ and understanding my role in the defense and communicating that properly with my teammates and coaches.”

His role grew from there to the point that he stepped into a starting spot last year when injuries hit Minnesota’s linebacker group hard.

“For me, going undrafted, it wasn’t a testament to the type of player I am,” said Wilson. “It is what it is. Every single day I improved my game and every single day promote my wellness as a man and as a player, and that’s just my mentality.

“That’s just my work ethic coming in each and every day and proving myself and being excited about it, being passionate about it. It’s what I love to do.”

Wilson finished last year with a team-leading 122 tackles, eight passes defended, three sacks, nine QB hits, eight tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles.

Granted, the Vikings' defense was terrible, but somebody had to make the plays and Wilson stepped up.

“I don’t have a ceiling,” he said. “I truly believe that I’m getting better each and every day. I continually each and every day, work on being my best, and improving, and preparing each and every day to truly succeed and to truly thrive.

“I think this is an amazing environment and an amazing city to do that in. The fans, you know they’re going to show their love and support for you and express that excitement. The coaches hold you accountable. I hold myself accountable. It’s a great opportunity and I’m excited.”

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.

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