The Jacksonville Jaguars have nominated safety Jarrod Wilson as the franchise’s nominee for the Athletes in Action Bart Starr Award, the club announced Thursday.
The award is given annually to the NFL player who “best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community.”
In a release, the club explained their nomination for Wilson stating, “through Wilson’s activism in the community alongside his fiancé, Desaray, leadership in the locker room and resiliency in recovering from injury, he has proven to embody the ideals of Bart Starr’s legacy.
For four years, Wilson has headed up the foundation he founded -- the Jarrod Wilson Foundation, which focuses on community outreach through the facets of career and college readiness, scholarship programs, community service and athletics. Last offseason (2019), Wilson hosted his first football camp in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. Spending the day with over 100 kids in attendance, Wilson’s foundation sought to teach them, “not only the fundamentals of the game but also leadership and the importance of education and family,” the Jags explained.
According to the club, "Wilson has also displayed a commitment to the Jacksonville community. He has made numerous visits to Wolfson Children’s Hospital to brighten kids’ day. He has hosted events at the Hubbard House, a local domestic violence shelter, and has participated in activities to support families impacted by cancer during the team’s Crucial Catch initiative."
In the NFL's annual "My Cause My Cleats" game on December 13, Wilson will wear cleats honoring his foundation.
“Just really appreciative,” Wilson said on Thursday of the nomination.
“Really just give glory to God first and foremost just for the ability to be in this position right now and I'm just thankful. Don’t really want to toot my own horn or anything like that but I'm just thankful and always willing to just give back in any way I can so I'm just appreciative of the nomination.”
Wilson saw first hand the significance of the award in 2018, when former Jaguars teammate Calais Campbell won both the Bart Starr Award*. It’s a special time that Wilson remembers well.
*Campbell also won the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award the following season.
“I just was talking about it not too long ago. Really big award, and it's just an honor, you know, just to be represented on and off the field just in a positive light, so pretty good.”
Defensive Coordinator Todd Wash has coached Wilson his entire career—now in his fifth year—and has seen the former Michigan Wolverines alum grow from a young player into a leader on the youngest team in the league. Wilson was elected a captain for the 2020 season.
“We got to really see him mature and grow over the last three, four years that we’ve had Jarrod,” bragged Wash when addressing Wilson’s nomination.
“He’s a tremendous person. He takes control of that room. He’s a great professional. He was that way early on coming out and he understood what he needed to do to develop himself as an individual and to just naturally turn into a leader within that group. He’s a great leader, not just in the group but obviously with our team. He’s a guy that as a coaching staff we can bounce things off of, we ask him questions. He’s a true leader and it’s great to see where he’s come from to obviously being nominated for this award.”
In Wilson’s career with the Jaguars, he has accumulated 156 tackles, three interceptions, two quarterback hits and a fumble recovery. He has started every game he’s played in this season (he missed three games while recovering from a hamstring injury) and last. That 2019 season, he played in and started all 16 games and was one of only five players in the league to play every snap for their team. For the former undrafted free agent, the transition from UDFA to starter is a testament to his work ethic according to Wash; a factor when nominated for the Bart Starr Award.
Said Wash, “I think it’s a lot of credit to him obviously with his work ethic. He loves football. He goes out and he plays when he’s banged up. He sucks it up and he plays and does what’s best for our football team. The team is always first with him and I think that’s just a credit to the kid and how he’s matured over the years.”