Jets Rookie Zach Wilson Joined Steve Young in an Exclusive Club Before Even Taking His 1st Snap in an Impressive Week 1 Start

As a Mormon and BYU product, New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson is following in Steve Young’s footsteps as each week progresses.

Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in April’s NFL draft, has a long way to go before he joins Young in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. For now, however, the rookie signal-caller just joined the three-time Super Bowl champion in another club.

Zach Wilson became the first BYU quarterback to start in Week 1 since Steve Young and Ty Detmer

For most of their Week 1 loss to old friend Sam Darnold and the Carolina Panthers, it looked to be the same old Jets. Still, there were times where their rookie quarterback provided reasons for his team’s tortured fans to be hopeful.

Wilson completed 20 of his 37 passes for 258 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception in the Jets’ 19-14 loss. Carolina sacked the second overall pick six times for 51 yards.

Here’s where things get interesting. According to ESPN, Wilson became the first BYU quarterback to start in Week 1 since Young and Ty Detmer, then playing for the Cleveland Browns, did so in 1999.

Jets fans can at least sleep well knowing their quarterback far outplayed the other two. Young went 9-of-26 for 96 yards and two interceptions in a 41-3 road loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 12, 1999. Detmer completed six of 19 passes for 52 yards and an interception in the Browns’ 43-0 loss. That blowout also marked the modern Browns’ first game after the previous Browns became the Baltimore Ravens following the 1995 season.

Not that Wilson would remember either of those games, of course. He was born on Aug. 3, 1999, which was also Tom Brady’s 22nd birthday. Are you feeling old yet?

Young is easily the best BYU alum in NFL history

BYU, as you may know, is a private school attended mainly by Mormon students. According to the East Idaho News, non-Mormon students made up 0.3% of the university’s student population in the fall of 2014.

Young, who played at BYU in the 1980s, is by far the school’s most successful alum who reached the NFL. If the three Super Bowl rings and a bronze bust in the Hall of Fame aren’t enough, just remember that he completed 64.3% of his passes for 33,124 yards, 232 touchdowns, and 107 interceptions in 15 NFL seasons. The seven-time Pro Bowler also ran for 4,239 yards and 43 touchdowns.

Other notable BYU products include longtime New York Giants center Bart Oates, former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel, and ex-Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon. 49ers linebacker Fred Warner and New England Patriots pass-rusher Kyle Van Noy are among the school’s best active NFL players.

Wilson has a long way to go before he steals the title away from Young

If Wilson turns out to be even half the player that Young was, then our gut tells us Jets fans will be consuming adult beverages in joy rather than despair and heartbreak.

No one will suggest Wilson resembled Patrick Mahomes in the Jets’ Week 1 loss. He had some sharp throws, especially on the two touchdown passes to veteran receiver Corey Davis, and made the most of a difficult situation behind an offensive line that lost standout left tackle Mekhi Becton with an ankle injury.

However, Wilson understandably looked like a rookie at times. Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson intercepted the young quarterback early in the second quarter. After trailing 16-0 for most of the first three quarters, Wilson rallied the Jets to two touchdowns in the final 17 minutes.

The rookie has a long way to go before he is even considered one of the top-25 BYU alums in NFL history. But he’s off to a solid start, and the Jets should feel encouraged.

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