New York Jets backup quarterback Zach Wilson, the former BYU star, was back in Utah a few weekends ago after completing organized team workouts with his NFL team and new Jets QB Aaron Rodgers on June 9.
“It’s tough because you never know how it’s going to play out. He could go there and never play, or he could go there and get drafted in the top five. You never know. So it’s about making the best decision , you can at the moment, and then just roll with it.” — Zach Wilson on brother Isaac choosing Utah over BYU
After spending a few days with his family in Draper, Wilson told the Deseret News on June 13 that he planned to “go on a little vacation with my girlfriend’s family next week” and then continue training in Utah until Jets training camp begins on 18 July.
“We have about 40 days off (from team activities) and then it’s back to training camp,” he said. “So I’m just doing a little bit of training on my own right now and spending time with my friends and family and just working on improving as much as I can.”
The 23-year-old Wilson confirmed that his girlfriend is Nicolette Dellanno, a model, TikTok star, social media influencer and dress designer in New York City. Dellanno came out to Utah over Memorial Day weekend and accompanied Wilson and his family to Lake Powell, Park City, other tourist spots and their cabin near Tibble Fork Reservoir in American Fork Canyon, he said.
“This is completely different from where she’s from in New Jersey,” Wilson said. “She really enjoyed it. She said she liked it out here.”
Wilson said he has been dating Dellanno for “a year or so” and that his family enjoyed the 21-year-old’s visit.
“She used to do some TikTok stuff for fun, but she’s actually one of the top designers at this company called Morgan & Co.,” he said. “They make dresses, like the mother of the bride, and prom dresses. So she works in New York City and she gets to design dresses every day, which is a pretty cool gig.”
Wilson spoke primarily to the Deseret News for a Father’s Day article about his father, Mike Wilson, but agreed to answer a few other questions on a wide range of topics a few days after. after addressing the media at the Jets practice facility in New Jersey.
There, he spoke at length about his demotion to backup QB, New York’s acquisition of his good friend Rodgers, his appreciation for new Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and other football-related issues.
“Right now I’m having a lot of fun,” Wilson said in New Jersey. “Such more fun than I’ve had. And I think it’s just the quarterback room, being with Aaron. I think it feels like every single day there is so much to learn. … Every day I’m like, ‘Wow, I just learned 10 different things about playing the quarterback position.'”
Wilson, the oldest of Mike and Lisa Wilson’s four sons, called the 39-year-old Rodgers “the big brother I never had” and “the greatest quarterback of all time,” and said his own first two seasons in the NFL have “absolutely” humiliated him.
“I can’t be bitter about the situation,” Zach Wilson said. “I didn’t perform well.”
Here’s more from my conversation with Wilson, who I’ve covered since he signed with BYU in December 2017 out of Draper’s Corner Canyon High. Some answers have been edited for clarity and consistency:
• About his youngest brother, Isaac, commits to play quarterback for BYU’s biggest rival, the University of Utah:
“Yeah, I thought it was perfect for him. Coming out of high school, it’s always different. The team at BYU is different than when I was there. There were some other schools he was looking at, too.
“But I think you just have to look at the situation at this point and what works best for him. Coming out of high school, BYU was the best option for me. And it ended up working. But I feel for him in this situation, it was Utah. And it was hard for him because people were like, ‘follow your brother.’ It’s Utah vs. The BYU thing.
“But if there’s anything I’ve learned in the NFL, and with sports in general, it’s that it really is a business. You can’t worry about feelings and emotions. You have to do what’s best for yourself, and I felt really, that it was also the best for him.
“It’s tough because you never know how it’s going to play out. He could go there and never play, or he could go there and get drafted in the top five. You never know. So it’s about making the best decision , you can at the moment, and then just roll with it.”
• About why and when he bought his father a new truck:
“I kind of ordered around Christmas, but it took a little longer. It was kind of an overall gift, not really specific to a holiday. Just a gift in general for him, just to help me out.
“He sacrificed a lot. My mom always gets mad because we don’t take many family vacations or he doesn’t like to do fun things. But he spends a lot of money training and taking us to camps and taking us all over the country for to go to these seven-on-seven events and basketball tournaments.
“She was always frustrated because that’s where his money went, to us kids to be able to play sports and stuff. So it was kind of like a thank you for the sacrifice. He spent a lot of money just trying to help me to become a good player.”
• On his Jets teammates’ questions about his time at BYU:
“People always have a lot of questions about it: ‘What’s it like to go to BYU? What’s the people like? What’s the faith?’ I get asked all sorts of things about BYU, bottom line is they always have a respect for it and an appreciation for it and it’s always good to rehearse the Y, move around and stuff.
“And then there’s going to be so many BYU guys in the NFL that it’s not (novel). The majority of the guys who ask me stuff have also already spent time with other BYU guys. So they’ve a great appreciation of them.”
• Where he stays when he comes back to Utah:
“I don’t have my own place here in Utah. I crash in my mom’s basement. I stay with the parents. My girlfriend lives in New Jersey and she works full time, so she’s not really able to come out here.
“I’m not really sure where I’m going to live one day (when his NFL career ends). But say I bought a house in Utah and I just sit there all day by myself. It doesn’t make sense. I would rather hang out with the family. You know, I’m never here that long anyway, so it’s nice to spend time with them when I can actually see them.”
• On the shape of his golf game playing in Utah and New Jersey:
“I’m still shooting like a 95, which is terrible. I feel like I don’t have enough time to play enough, because I have to figure this football thing out first.”
“In Utah, I go with a lot of my friends who are still in college, so we go to Sleepy Ridge in Orem because it’s cheap and always easy to get on, and we’ll play a quick nine over there every once in a while .
“I would say the majority of my golf comes during OTAs when I’m in New Jersey because some of the most beautiful courses in the country are out there, incredible courses that the players get to play on, like Trump National in Bedminster is incredible.
“We went and played Due Process (Stables) golf course the other day. There are some great courses out there, just beautiful courses.”
• What about the NFL has surprised him that he wasn’t ready for:
“A lot. Yeah, it’s tough. It’s 100% a different game. There’s a lot more study that goes into it. There’s a lot more philosophy. It’s really a big jump from college. But I would say that the transition from my first two years to this year so far is also very different.
“I’m learning so much football now and I’ve only been there a month (with new offensive staff). That’s the most football I’ve learned in two years. So I really enjoy that aspect of being able to experience different things.
“You know, I just jumped into the NFL and did something completely different. Now I’m learning a new scheme. I’m going to learn from Aaron (Rodgers) and it’s totally different than what I did my first two years, so it makes me eager and excited because I think it will be the best thing that can help me in my development.”