Payton Wilson, the North Carolina commit and Orange High School football star, has a torn ACL, his father said Monday.
Wilson, a 6-4, 225-pound outside linebacker, injured his knee during the opening kickoff of Orange’s game against Cedar Ridge on Friday night.
Chad Wilson said his son was injured when he tried to plant his foot in the ground. He said his son may be out at least six months.
“His spirits are high,” Chad Wilson said. “He’s at practice with his team hanging out. He’ll be at practice supporting them.”
Payton Wilson, who is ranked No. 3 in the country at outside linebacker, according to 247Sports, committed to UNC on May 1. However, N.C. State and Notre Dame are still pursuing him ahead of the early signing period from Dec. 20-22. Payton Wilson will graduate early and enroll at a school in January.
Chad Wilson said his son will take an official visit N.C. State this weekend and Notre Dame on Nov. 18, just to make sure he made the right decision with UNC.
After Payton Wilson’s season-ending injury, Chad Wilson said the coaches at each of the three universities showed their support and assured his son they would still take him.
Chad Wilson said N.C. State and Notre Dame’s pitches to his son in the past month have been that UNC hasn’t been winning, while the Wolfpack and Irish have been. He also said coaches from Notre Dame and N.C. State in the past have used UNC’s academic scandal and potential for sanctions and penalties as a pitch to try to lure the younger Wilson away from the Tar Heels.
Payton Wilson, the 2016-17 N&O male athlete of the year, was a three-sport star at Orange. He was the 3A state 220-pound champion in wrestling a year ago, going 43-0. In lacrosse, he was his team’s leader in groundballs and faceoff percentage.
In his junior season, Payton Wilson led the state with five punt returns for touchdown while playing running back (756 yards rushing, 6 TDs), receiver (305 yards, 4 TDs), linebacker (127 tackles, 39 for loss, 13 sacks) and even kicker.
This year, Payton Wilson started the season at linebacker (103 tackles, 21 for loss, 10 sacks) and receiver (263 yards, 4 TDs), but injuries had forced him into being an option quarterback.
Payton Wilson will have an MRI on Thursday, and hopes to have surgery next week.
Two other Orange High School football players have been seriously injured in the past month. Thys Oldenburg, a 14-year-old on the junior varsity team, is in a medically induced coma after suffering a head injury on Oct. 12. The next day, Orange senior running back Marvante Beasley went down during a game against Hillside and was taken off the field on a stretcher. The following morning, he was released from the hospital and cleared to play.