Tonight, the Philadelphia Eagles will play the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome in the first Monday Night Football game of the season. It's an exciting game for many reasons: The Eagles have almost completely revamped their offense over the offseason, while for the Falcons, Dan Quinn will be making his head coaching debut. After the results of yesterday's games, the winner of this will have a leg up on the rest of the teams in their divisions, who mostly struggled yesterday.
And most importantly for IU fans, Kevin Wilson's footprint will be all over this game in offense.
Former Hoosier running back Tevin Coleman will be making his first appearance in an NFL uniform for Atlanta. Even more excitingly, he is slated to start the game for the Falcons. Coming off a 2,000-yard season, Coleman will have high expectations from his new team and their fans. As IU fans who watched Coleman light up Big Ten defenses week after week, we should be very excited to see how he does.
However, Coleman isn't the only Wilson product who will grace the field tonight at the Georgia Dome. The Eagles will trot out newly acquired quarterback Sam Bradford, who comes from the Rams after six injury-plagued seasons. Joining him is running back DeMarco Murray, also newly acquired from the Dallas Cowboys. This won't be the first time Bradford and Murray have played together though. They were both on the same late-2000s Oklahoma teams, including the 2008 team that won the Big 12 and lost to Florida in the national title game.
The offensive coordinator for those teams, of course, was Kevin Wilson. And Bradford and Murray helped to lead that 2008 team, which was a pinball machine. Bradford threw for 4,721 yards that season, with a remarkable 50 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions. Murray, who like Bradford was a sophomore that season, racked up 1,002 rushing yards and 395 receiving yards for the Sooners. Wilson's offense set new records that season, scoring 716 total points for an average of 51.1 points per game. What was especially impressive is that in November and December of that season, the Sooners didn't score fewer than 61 points in a single game. Though Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow, and the Gator defense ultimately slowed down the Sooners in the title game that season, Oklahoma's offensive achievement was remarkable. And much of that traces back to Kevin Wilson.
Though IU football hasn't had the most successful seasons recently, having three former Wilson products all on the Monday Night Football stage for the first game of the year is proof that his system not only puts up huge numbers in college, but that it also leads to professional success. Ultimately, we can hope that this success in the pros helps IU recruiting as well. For any IU recruit that harbors the NFL dream, they can watch tonight as Coleman, Bradford, and Murray - all of whom Wilson once coached - start for their respective teams in a huge opening week contest. It is validation for what Oklahoma and Indiana fans have known for a while - that Wilson can get his players to the next level, whether it be as an offensive coordinator or a head coach.
A loyal reader notes that we omitted two other Wilson products that will play in tonight's game: