Patriots

Mac Wilson knew Patriots teammate Mac Jones would be’ special’ at Alabama

"I just saw something in him that just made me like: ‘Hey, this kid is going to be special.’"

Mack Wilson Patriots
Mack Wilson. AP Photo/Greg M. Cooper
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Linebacker Mack Wilson might be new to the New England Patriots, but he’s more than familiar with quarterback Mac Jones.

Sure, he played against Jones and the Patriots as a member of the Cleveland Browns last season. But he also has connections with Jones from their days together at Alabama, back when Wilson was an upperclassman contributor to the Crimson Tide defense and Jones was just a scout team quarterback as a freshman.

“I remember Mac when he was a pup,” said Wilson of Jones, whom he affectionately called “Mac No. 2.” Though Wilson joked that he intercepted Jones “a couple of times in practice,” he said the quarterback quietly impressed him.

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“Just seeing how much he grew as a person and a player, it amazed me. I was telling everybody back home, friends and family, ‘Mac Jones is going to be special.’ A lot of guys didn’t believe me. Even some of the guys that were on our team didn’t believe me. I just saw something in him that just made me like: ‘Hey, this kid is going to be special.’

“I used to always tell him, ‘Just stay working, man. Stay patient. Your time will come.’ And that’s what he did and obviously the rest was history.”

After Wilson went to the NFL as a fifth-round pick in 2019, Jones waited his turn behind the likes of Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa, playing sparingly. Then, in 2020, Jones finally got his turn to shine and lit up the college football scene, leading Alabama to a dominant national championship and setting single-season NCAA records for completion percentage and passer rating.

He’s taken that success with him to the NFL, helping the Patriots reach the playoffs in 2021 and making an All-Rookie team and Pro Bowl in the process.

One word Wilson brought up to describe how Jones has exceeded expectations both in college and with the Patriots last year: swagger.

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“You know a lot of guys come in as freshmen all uptight. Mac, he just had swagger,” Wilson said. “That’s something that caught my eye. He made some big plays. He made some great throws. Even when he scrambled he had a little juice in him. It was just different little small things that I’ve seen that made me like, hey, I like Mac. He’s going to be good. I believed in it and obviously it’s coming true.”

Now, the two will be reunited as teammates — and back to opposing each other on the practice field.

On Sundays, though, Jones will aim to make a crucial leap to help the Patriots keep pace with the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins within the AFC East, while Wilson will be part of a revamped defensive effort to keep the division’s explosive offenses in check.

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