JOSH RASMUSSEN/THE ARBITER. Kyle Wilson took two interceptions back for touchdowns during the 2009 season.
JOSH RASMUSSEN/THE ARBITER. Kyle Wilson took two interceptions back for touchdowns during the 2009 season.

Kyle Wilson has been through his fair share of ups and downs during his time at Boise State.

Wilson, the only starting senior on BSU’s team, was suspended early in his collegiate career for breaking team rules, but he battled back from the early problems in his career to become the face of the Bronco defense.

Ask anyone on BSU’s defense and they’ll tell you they respect what Wilson can do on the field. What makes him special to the team is what he does off the field and how he carries himself in practice to set an example for the young players.

“He’s a great player, but to me Kyle is a model for how we want guys to prepare each week and act off the field,” defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said of his future NFL draft pick. “He’s done an unbelievable job helping the younger players in practice. His value to our younger players is unmeasurable because they see him practice and prepare.”

The lure of NFL was a difficult decision for Wilson to make following his stellar junior season. After contemplating the idea of getting to play one more season in college to help perfect his skills, Wilson decided to come back and help BSU get to its second Fiesta Bowl in four years.

“Him coming back was big for us. He helps me with the understanding of the game that he has,” hard-hitting junior safety Jeron Johnson said. “He helps me out there and he pushes you to be a better player.

Coming to BSU from the other side of the nation in Piscataway, New Jersey, Wilson took a chance on the Broncos. A chance that has paid off very well for the cornerback playing in his second Fiesta Bowl.

The young players on BSU’s team look up to Wilson as an older brother and try their best to mimic what he does on and off the field. Wilson is the only remaining player on BSU who played in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. He knows what it feels like to be the young guy on the big stage.

“I feel like a veteran out there, like I’ve been there and done that,” Wilson said. “I enjoy helping the younger guys. I’m not letting them get caught up in all the nice treatment we’re getting outside of practice.”

Having to battle all season with teams who’re afraid to throw his way has been the primary reason why Wilson doesn’t have the stats that he put up last season.

In 2008, Wilson took four punts back for touchdowns. This year he had none due to teams utilizing the shield punt, which was specifically designed to slow down electric punt returners.

TCU will have to account for Wilson on every play, and don’t count on quarterback Andy Dalton trying to go his way either.

“He’s a very quick guy with very quick feet,” TCU junior wide receiver Jimmy Young said. “He’s a smart player who’s very explosive on punt returns. What worries me is how quick his feet are. I have to find a way to adjust to that.”

It’s all come down to one game on the biggest stage against the toughest of opponents for Wilson. One game left to leave his final mark on a legacy which has translated into one of the best stories to have ever come out of the Bronco program.

“One thing I think about often is how I want to be remembered. This is a big game that everyone will remember me by,” Wilson said emotionally. “Going out the right way and doing everything I possibly can out there would make me very happy. Whatever it takes to get the job done this game.”