Andy Gottesman / The Lantern
Lawrence Wilson doesn’t believe in bad luck.
In 2007, the defensive end broke his right leg in Ohio State’s season-opening win against Youngstown State. In just a matter of minutes, Wilson’s season was over.
A year later, Wilson suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in an October victory over Purdue, cutting his junior year short.
In the blink of an eye, a pair of season-ending injuries had jeopardized the career of Ohio’s top-rated defensive end coming out of high school in 2005.
“It was definitely hard,” Wilson said. “But I’m a mentally strong person. You can’t think about it like that.”
After successfully completing his first recovery, the second injury delivered a crushing blow to Wilson’s psyche. For two years, Wilson struggled to remain on the path to ideal health, numerous obstacles standing in his way.
“The toughest times have to be setbacks,” he said. “You do good two weeks, and then have a week where your legs are just throbbing and everything just hurts. Those are probably the toughest times; the peaks and valleys.”
To endure the internal struggle, Wilson focused on his goal to return to the field, refusing to center around the unfortunate hand he was dealt.
“If you think about low times, then it drags your emotions down and drags your attitude down,” he said. “I just thought about the positive all the time. My parents kept telling me to keep pushing, that it would eventually break. My coaches were extremely patient with me, telling me to keep trying and keep going, and it’s paying off.”
Wilson used his mental toughness to persevere through the suffering and frustration. He exercised the option to redshirt the season that he broke his leg, granting him an additional year of eligibility.
Awarded one final chance to live out his collegiate football dreams, Wilson insists he is satisfied seeing action and staying healthy.
“I’m blessed to be playing,” he said. “I just tried to get back as soon as I could to help my teammates out. My season has been cut short two years in a row. I just want to finish a whole season strong.”
The St. Vincent-St. Mary grad has played in each of OSU’s four games this season, recording seven tackles. But Wilson’s interception in the steady rain against Illinois — the second pick of his career — brought into perspective everything that he has persisted through.
“I’ve been through so much,” he said. “I keep fighting back and fighting back. It was good that something fell for me.”
After the football fell into his arms, Wilson returned the interception four yards before being brought to the ground. He immediately stood up and then took out two years of frustration in a prolonged celebration. The entire Buckeye defense joined Wilson, who seemingly couldn’t stop jumping up and down.
“I was definitely tired afterward,” Wilson said. “When I got to the bench, I thought to myself, ‘What did I just do?’ I was just shocked at what I did. My teammates were giving me a hard time the whole rest of the time about it.”
The good-natured embarrassment he felt certainly beat the disappointment and aggravation that plagued him while injured.
His teammates clearly enjoy having him back around the team on a regular basis.
“One thing about Lawrence, he shows a lot of enthusiasm when he’s around,” defensive end Thaddeus Gibson said. “You couldn’t even tell he was hurt. He’s just Lawrence every day. He’ll get you going, always cracking jokes, always laughing and a really good spirit every day.”
Not even the most ill-fated fortune could keep Wilson from being himself.
“I’m not superstitious at all,” Wilson said. “I just go with it.”