BYU/NFL: How DB Chris Wilcox’s rookie season went and where he is now

Editor’s note: First in an occasional series on the rookie seasons of the five BYU players selected in the 2021 NFL Draft.

The Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers were eight days away from their 2021 season opener against the Dallas Cowboys.

Bucs rookie cornerback Chris Wilcox felt good about his chances of making the 53-man roster as a BYU’s seventh-round draft pickeven though he suffered an injury early in training camp that cost him valuable reps throughout the preseason.

Then his phone rang.

The Bucs were giving him up, they said, but planned to put him in their practice squad so he should go ahead and find an apartment in the neighborhood. However, hours later, as he prepared to leave his hotel room and sign a long-term lease for an apartment in Tampa-St. St. Petersburg region, his agent called.

“I bought myself a car, a Kia Stinger. I haven’t gone too crazy. It was definitely something I needed, just to get around. Other than that, not much. I act like I’m living off an allowance check from BYU. I try not to spend too much. – CB Chris Wilcox of the Indianapolis Colts on his spending habits

Wilcox, who had played 115 total snaps at outside cornerback and recorded four tackles, had been claimed waivers by the Indianapolis Colts.

“So I called the lady at the apartment complex, told her I wasn’t going to need the apartment after all, then I packed up and flew to Indy that night- there,” Wilcox said. “Everything happened so fast.”

Wilcox’s time on the Colts’ 53-man roster was short-lived, however. They signed free agent safety Andrew Sendejo on Sept. 14, two days after losing 28-16 to Seattle and waiving Wilcox, then put him on their practice squad.

“That’s life in the NFL,” Wilcox said. “You can never, ever take anything for granted. Your (status) can change in the blink of an eye. You work as hard as you can and stay humble and grateful.

Wilcox remained on the Colts’ practice squad all season as Indianapolis went 9-8 and failed to qualify for the playoffs. He was one of 14 players who signed a reserve/future contract with the club on January 10, 2022, and has been living in Indy and training daily ever since.

Wilcox said reserve/future deals allow clubs to sign players who weren’t on the active roster, but keep them in the hopes they can play a part in the upcoming season. He’ll be with the Colts until the start of training camp, participating in OTAs and such.

Wilcox recently spent half an hour speaking with the Deseret News from his home in Indianapolis, recounting the ups and downs of his NFL rookie seasonand his expectations for the future. Here are some of his memories:

Why he didn’t play an extra year at BYU, as permitted by NCAA COVID-19 rules:

“I decided to declare (and not play in the Boca Raton Bowl) because I was 23,” he said. “I was supposed to leave the year before, but I had to wear a red shirt because of the injuries. Those made me stay another year. And then, I just felt like he was time to move on.

On what it was like to hear her name called as 251st overall pickby Super Bowl champions:

“The drafting process was a crazy and surreal experience. It was cool to hear my name called, all that. You get there with all the other recruits, and you start the recruit minicamp and just jump into it. Passing by, I didn’t know what to expect. I felt like a freshman again, like I was back at BYU.

On whether he was surprised:

“Tampa Bay was the first team to come into contact with me. But it wasn’t like we talked all the time, or anything like that. I’ve spoken to a lot of teams – over half the league.

On his “Welcome to the NFL” moment:

“Probably seeing Tom Brady and Mike Evans for the first time, guys like that. Another big moment for me too was when I lined up against Mike Evans. I was like, ‘Man, that’s cool.’ It was surreal. In fact, I had a pass breakdown one of the first times I went against him. They tried to throw a molten ball and I broke it.

While playing exhibition games with the Buccaneers:

“We played the Bengals, Titans and Texans. They rotated a lot of guys so I couldn’t play the whole game. I just went out and tried to show them what I could do. The teams didn’t throw me too much, but I made a few tackles here and there.

On spending the season on the Colts practice squad:

“I went to the games, to everything. I didn’t get dressed, of course. But if there had been injuries, I could have been relieved. That’s another thing I learned: even if you’re on the practice squad, it’s like you’re still on the squad, so you have to be ready to play all the time.

On his first big purchase as a pro; according to Spotrac.com, Wilcox won $275,839as a practice squad player:

“I bought myself a car, a Kia Stinger. I haven’t gone too crazy. It was definitely something I needed, just to get around. Other than that, not much. I act like I’m living off an allowance check from BYU. I try not to spend too much. »

Wilcox said he drove his mother’s old car at BYU, a Kia Optima, which is now driven by his younger brother.

Living in Indianapolis:

“Reminds me a bit of Utah. Sure, no mountains and things like that, but the scenery is cool and the city gives me a Salt Lake City type vibe. I live about 28 minutes from downtown town, and I really like it. It’s a really beautiful place.”

On if the NFL lifestyle is what he thought it would be:

“You have a completely different view of what you thought was going to happen. But I realized that even if you’re a practice squad player, it’s a blessing, because I’ve seen people come for a week or two and then they’re gone. They don’t even get the chance to make the practice squad. As long as you have a job, it’s a blessing. That’s how I see it right now.”

On what the Colts like about him:

“I think about my speed, my size and my tackling ability. I am a great corner. I feel like that’s what coaches in the league really want right now, especially with the big, big receivers in the league. With how fast everyone is today, that’s definitely one of my strengths.

If he had to do crazy stuff as a rookie, initiation type stuff:

“With the Colts, we had a rookie costume contest. It was wild. A lot of times if you’re the rookie in the post room, you have to get the snacks every week, for all the meetings. … Fortunately, I didn’t have to pay for a starter dinner.But when you buy snacks and stuff, it comes out of your pocket.

So it all adds up. I didn’t have to pay for an $8,000 dinner (like other recruits) and all that thankfully.

On if asked by teammates to play for and attend BYU:

“All the time. All the time. Guys always ask, ‘How was BYU. How was it?’ I tell them my experience at BYU was cool, even as a non-member (of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints),” he said. “It wasn’t like a party school or something. I tell them at the end of the day, everyone at BYU was really nice and stuff.

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BYU defensive back Chris Wilcox defends Arizona wide receiver Shawn Poindexter in Tucson on Saturday, September 1, 2018.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

“They’re going to ask, ‘Is this true for BYU? Is it true?’ And I’m like, ‘Yes, that’s true, that’s not true, depending on what it is,’ he continued. “I tell them the honor code is (a real, enforced thing), but that’s what I signed up for. I explain it and dispel misconceptions.

On his chances of making the Colts’ 53-man roster in 2022:

“I am confident enough to succeed this year, because you have to believe in yourself. I just have to keep working for it and pushing for it. They don’t really keep much DB on the NFL’s 53.

“But I know what to expect now. This is my sophomore year. I’m not going to walk out feeling like a freshman. I’ve learned a lot. The difference between college and the NFL is a any other ball game, just with football IQ and all that. You can see why some people make so many plays. They’re smart and pick up on the little trends and stuff. I feel like I’ve won everything that. We’ll see.”

On what he wants to do if football doesn’t work out:

“I want to get into the music scene. It would definitely be one of my dreams. I still have my laptop. When I was at BYU, I had the whole setup with my mics and speakers. … When I have free time, I’ll do some beats, but I don’t have that much time here. I come home tired.

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Houston Texans wide receiver Chris Moore tackles Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Chris Wilcox during the preseason football game Saturday, August 28, 2021 in Houston. The former BYU standout was waved off by the Bucs before the regular season, but was picked up by the Colts and spent the 2021 season on the Indianapolis practice squad.

Justin Rex, Associated Press

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