Home Away From Home: A College Athlete’s Journey

For Gernorris Wilson, a 4-Star Offensive Lineman out of Lakeland, FL, the dream of playing at the next level began early on in high school. He worked hard, put in the hours, and caught the attention of coaches and recruiters from various programs across the country, including Auburn. But when it came time to make a decision, he found himself committing and signing with the University of Oregon, a school located over 3,000 miles away from home.

When asked if he ever saw himself ending up in a small town like Eugene, he responded, “No, I didn’t. As I was coming up, it didn’t really matter where I went, I just wanted to be given the opportunity to show what I can do and contribute on the field.”

But the move wasn’t without its challenges. Wilson had to adapt to a new football culture, different from what he had experienced before. “The culture is very clear and not hard to get. Come in and work your ass off every day and just grind to get better. Everybody wants to be a superstar, so we all put in the work to get there. We stack because we’re trying to get that natty title as well. We want it just as bad if not more,” he explained.

Despite the distance from home, Wilson believes that more kids from Florida could make the move to Oregon to compete. “I could definitely see kids coming here if you really love football and wanna get outta state. This is an amazing place to consider. Nothing but good vibes, hard work, and dedication.”

For those who may be nervous about making the move out West, Wilson offers reassurance. “Don’t worry, you’ll be okay. They take good care of you. It’s nothing major. You’ll be just fine.”

One factor that has helped ease the transition for Wilson is having an offensive line coach who is from Florida in A’lique Terry the former D-Line coach for the Vikings who is a Miami native. “It definitely gave me a little sigh of relief when I found that out. He understands what it takes to be far away from home with no one. So, with that help with me, it’s taken a lot of pressure and reassurance off me.”

Moving far from home can be a daunting experience for anyone, but for student-athletes pursuing their dreams, it can be especially challenging. However, with the right mindset and support, it is possible to adapt and thrive in a new environment, as Wilson has shown. Despite committing to Auburn initially, he embraced the opportunity to move across the country to play for the University of Oregon, and has become a vital part of their football program.