Former WVU football player Quincy Wilson set to inject new life into University of Rio Grande team

RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Don’t tell Quincy Wilson that the University of Rio Grande can’t put a winning football team on the field quicker than most people might think.

The former West Virginia University standout is getting the chance to prove his theory correct.

The 43-year-old native of Weirton has been selected to lead the reboot of theschool ’s long-dormant program, which is slated to make its return to the gridiron in the Fall of 2025.

School officials made the announcement Tuesday morning.

“I think it’s been proven that it can happen. If we were trying to play this year, that would be too much of a battle. But we’re at an advantage, I think, in that we’ve got a chance to be selective about who we want to bring in. We can dive into it and develop,” Wilson said. “I have no doubt that we can get 20 or 30 kids on campus this Fall, then add some in January and have a normal signing class in February. I’m looking to be at normal operation by January and really think we’ll be able to compete from day one. That’s the plan. We have the opportunity to attract good players and good coaches and, if that happens, we’ll let the chips fall where they may. ”

University of Rio Grande athletic director Jeff Lanham said that Wilson checked off all the boxes that the search committee was looking for when selecting a leader for its new program.

“We ’re excited to welcome coach Wilson to our Rio family and look forward to the success of the football program under his guidance, ” Lanham said. “We believe his leadership will foster a culture of hard work and team work. His vision for the program’s future aligns perfectly with our goals and aspirations.

The energy and enthusiasm he brings to the role are truly inspiring and we can’t wait to see the impact he’ll make on the Rio Football program.”

Rio Grande will serve as the second collegiate head coaching position for Wilson, who starred at WVU from 1999-2003.

He was selected to lead the fledgling second-year program at the University of Fort Lauderdale — a National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) school located in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — in 2022, but the Eagles ended up playing just one game and were forced to forfeit the remainder of their season due to a lack of players.

“I wanted to be a head coach so bad when I went down there that I ignored all of the red flags of ‘we don’t have this and we don’t have that’. Once I got there, it was a nightmare,” Wilson said of his brief stint in the Sunshine State. “But I’m looking at that whole situation there to becoming a blessing. It’s kind of funny. I was telling everybody, even before the announcement was made, that I’d been on the Rio Grande campus before and said that this would be a great place to have football. Maybe I spoke it into existence.”

Wilson’s collegiate coaching career began at his alma mater, where he served as WVU’s Assistant Director of Football Operations from 2012-2015. “I have a love for the game and, thanks to (former WVU head) coach (Dana) Holgorsen, I found an opportunity to become a coach, ” said Wilson. “I came back to WVU at the time they were making the transition to the Big 12 and made those trips to the other schools to see their facilities and compare things. I didn’t do the grad assistant thing, but I was setting up the coaching clinics and our camps and networking and meeting people and it was awesome to have that experience at that level. But that was from the operations side.

What I really wanted to do was to get into living rooms and recruit and be a leader of my own program someday. ”

Wilson moved to Glenville State College in 2016, where he served as the team’s running backs/run game coordinator and the Pioneers piled up over 2,000 yards rushing for the season.

He then spent five seasons (2017-2021) as the associate head coach and running backs coach at West Virginia State University. Wilson’s time on the sideline at UFL followed before he returned to the Mountain State last year as the running backs coach and recruiting coordinator at Fairmont State University.

“You try to take something from everywhere you ’ve been. The great thing is, and it cracks me up because people always say ‘the athletes are different’ but, no, it’s not the athletes.

What ’s different is there’s more accessibility to your kids, which means more educational stuff that we, as coaches, have to do for the players,” he said. “It’s not like you have one meeting, explain all the rules and blah, blah, blah and go on about your business.

Now, you have to have a weekly approach where you ’re always selling your program and your culture.

I’m big on retention — I want to keep our guys once we get them here. You don’twant to waste all the time you spend recruiting and then have them leave. Are you going to keep everybody? No. But we can keep the majority of them because they believe in what you’re doing, they believe in the culture and the brotherhood and they believe that they’re going to be champions one day.”

Wilson’s immediate task is hiring his offensive and defensive coordinators who, in turn, will help identify and hire graduate assistant coaches to come on board later in the summer.

Then, he’ll turn his attention toward finding his future players —a process that he’s excited top get started.

“We ’re dead central in a hot bed of football when it comes to recruiting. Once the news of this hits, I’m not going to be able to sleep.

The phone will be ringing with coaches calling and I’m going to be looking forward to getting out on the road, ” Wilson said. “I’ve recruited Columbus and the southeastern area of Ohio —places like Ironton — but I look forward to going from Jackson to Washington Court House and finding the talent because there’s a lot of it there. ”

But he’s not stopping there.

“Charleston’s an hour away. Huntington’s an hour away. That’s some of the best football in West Virginia. And, as far as that goes, we’re only three hours from Morgantown,” Wilson said. “I’m going to try and get the best players we can get, wherever they might be from. I know a bulk of them will be local because that’s how you fill the seats. We’ve got to get local kids and build that fan base —not just the families of the players, but the average fan as well. I want to get people thinking that, ‘Ohio State ’s not home this week, let’s go watch Rio’.”

As a player, Wilson enjoyed a storied career at Weir High School and became the first player in West Virginia prep history to surpass 3,000 rushing yards in a single season after finishing the 1998 campaign with 3,262 yards.

He led the Red Riders to a 14-0 record and a Class AA State Championship title.

Wilson, who was a USA Today honorable mention All-American, totaled 47 touchdowns during his senior season and shared the Kennedy Award – which is presented annually to the state ’s top high school football player — with Nitro High School record-setting quarterback J.R. House, who now serves as the third base coach with the Cincinnati Reds. He rushed for a staggering 6,161 yards and scored 90 touchdowns during his high school career.

Wilson continued his career collegiately at WVU and, after being redshirted during the 2000 season following reconstructive surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee during the Gold-Blue spring game, he worked his way into the starting lineup at tailback.

Wilson received Third-Team Associated Press All-America honors and First Team All-Big East accolades in his senior season after rushing for 1,380 yards and 12 touchdowns.

His rushing yardage ranked 12th in the country his senior season.

In 44 games with the Mountaineers, Wilson totaled 2,608 yards and 20 TDs in 474 carries. His rushing attempts and yards both rank fifth in WVU Football history.

“We ’re built for success here at Rio Grande, with the president, the AD and everything that’s in line for us with the new dorm, the field house and rec center,”

Wilson added. “We ’re in a good spot and I’m happy to be at the controls.”