Everyone is talking about the established stars for Super Bowl 56, but Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson deserves the same shine.
LOS ANGELES — Every Super Bowl has its unknown star, waiting to be born.
For Super Bowl LVI, he wears No. 55 for the Cincinnati Bengals.
“Let go and let God,” said Logan Wilson of embracing his first Super Bowl appearance during an exclusive interview with FanSided on Friday afternoon. “It’s a surreal feeling, you prepare your whole life for this. … And that dream has become a reality for me and for every one of us.”
In the 2020 NFL Draft, the Bengals selected Wilson No. 56 overall. It was a call Wilson didn’t expect, having not spoken much to Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor or other executives throughout the pre-draft process.
His ensuing first year was a challenge. Due to COVID, the NFL cancelled OTAs, minicamps and preseason games. Training camps were significantly altered as well. For a kid coming from the University of Wyoming, the adjustment was especially jolting.
“Last year was a tough year,” Wilson said. “You can only do so many x’s and o‘s in Zoom meetings. The best way for me to learn personally is to make mistakes and not make them again. … This year we had OTAs and from a mental perspective that helped a lot. That’s why my confidence is so much higher.”
It’s showing. Made a starter in 2021, Wilson notched team-bests with 100 tackles and four interceptions across 13 games. In the postseason, he’s again paced Cincinnati with 30 stops including 10 tackles in the Bengals’ AFC Championship Game win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
A week prior against the Tennessee Titans, Wilson picked off Ryan Tannehill in the waning seconds of a 16-16 game, setting up rookie kicker Evan McPherson’s game-winning 52-yard field goal.
All told, Wilson has led a unit which has allowed less than 20 points in its first two playoff games, before stifling Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs to three points across the second half and overtime two weeks ago.
“I think it’s just the second-half adjustments based on the offense facing us,” Wilson said. “Having a year in the system, understanding the adjustments that can be made within the system, that’s huge. We’ve settled down and played our brand of football. We know what we’re capable of. … Everyone tries to do their 1/11th on defense.”
Unlike many of the other stars in Super Bowl LVI, Wilson wasn’t a first-round pick. Hell, he only had a single offer to play FBS football, a late chance coming from his home-state school in the University of Wyoming.
Wilson, who made three All-State teams as a kicker, punter, safety and receiver at Natrona County High School, was redshirted his freshman season and switched to linebacker. In the Mountain West, he was the 2016 Freshman of the Year before earning Second-Team honors in ’17 and First-Team in ’19.
Still, entering the 2020 NFL Draft as a fifth-year senior and turning 24 years old that July, Wilson wasn’t a top prospect despite his 10 interceptions, seven sacks and three defensive scores.
Cincinnati decided to believe, and Wilson has rewarded. Now, the Bengals are one win away from their first Super Bowl victory.
“It’s been a lot of fun honestly, been a lot of fun to go to battle in the locker room,” Wilson said. “We have no egos, a bunch of selfless guys. Playing team football, and that’s one of the biggest reasons we’re in this game now.”
On Sunday night, Wilson will be surrounded by stars.
By the end of it, there’s a good chance he’ll have become one.