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FOOTBALL

Only a sophomore, Florida football WR Eugene Wilson III becoming a face of the program

Kevin Brockway
Gainesville Sun

Florida football wide receiver Eugene Wilson III received a loud ovation shortly after throwing out the first pitch at a recent UF baseball game at Condron Family Ballpark.

The sophomore pitched from the mound and, although it short-hopped the plate, the cheers came, nonetheless.

As the leading returning receiver for the Florida Gators in 2024, the 5-foot-10, 181-pound Wilson had an electric performance in UFֱs spring game, finishing with 8 catches for 128 yards and a touchdown.

ֱI just feel like that set the standard,ֱ Wilson said. ֱItֱs something Iֱm just trying to make a habit of, for every game this year.ֱ

Wilson has quickly become one of the faces of the Florida football program after a breakout 2023 season. His six touchdown catches led all UF receivers, and he earned freshman All-SEC and All-America honors with 61 catches for 533 yards.

That's resulted in Name, Image and Likeness opportunities, as Wilson's appearance at the baseball game was part of a Florida Victorious event. Wilson, represented by Grady ֱ, also has inked NIL deals with Alsander GNV, a student apartment complex near campus, Crunch Fitness and apparel. As part of the deal with Through the Storm, Wilson is donating $3 of all T-shirt sales back to his local youth football team, the Keystone Bills.

The Florida football game plan going into the 2024 season will feature ways to get the ball in the hands of Wilson, who coaches and teammates call Tre.

ֱWe're going to get our money's worth out of Tre Wilson,ֱ Florida coach Billy Napier said. ֱI can promise you that.ֱ

How Super Bowl-winning father pushed Florida football WR Eugene Wilson III

Florida WR Eugene Wilson III throws out the first pitch before the start of Game 2 between Florida and Kentucky on Saturday at Condron Family Ballpark in Gainesville

The breakout season didn't come without hard work. Since elementary school, Wilson has trained extensively with his father, Eugene Wilson Jr., a former All-American defensive back at Illinois who went on to a seven-year NFL career with the New England Patriots (2003-07), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2008) and Houston Texans (2009-10).

The elder Wilson won back-to-back Super Bowls with the Patriots under Bill Belichick in 2004 and 2005, around the time Trey was born.

ֱThat was kind of the plan," Wilson Jr. said. "I wanted to have my kids kind of early so that when they got older, I would still be able to move around and play with them or train with them ... I was around 23, when I had Tre and I mean itֱs just been awesome to be able to interact with your kid in a sporting setting."

A native of Merrillville, Indiana, in the northwest corner of the state, Wilson Jr. chose to settle in Tampa because of the weather and the opportunities that high school football in Florida could afford for his son. Tre moved in with his father when he was 11 years old.

"I taught him how to get in condition, get into shape by running," Wilson Jr. said. "I showed him workouts and stuff he could do on his own, but at the same time we would go out and have him running routes and throwing balls, and sometimes he would run routes on me."

By the time Tre Wilson was a high school sophomore, he got the best of his dad during a workout at a local park.

"He turned his little camera on, and we were doing releases," Wilson Jr. said. "He hit me with a shake and my foot came up from under me and I slipped."

The video clip made its rounds to family and friends.

"Everybody in the family heard about that one," Wilson Jr. said. "But I donֱt feel bad about it, if anyone is going to do it to me, I want my son to do it, so it was a pretty funny clip, and you know he got really excited and hyped about that one.ֱ

Tre Wilson emerged as a two-way stay at Gaither High in Tampa, playing both wide receiver and defensive back, but gravitated towards wide receiver during his junior and senior year.

"His junior year is when he really picked it up on training at receiver," Wilson Jr. said. "Then once we got into the games, it was just night and day, man this dude is meant to catch the ball and score touchdowns. He makes it look fairly easy sometimes."

How Florida football WR Eugene Wilson III is approaching offseason

Tre Wilson still trains with his father in Tampa during the offseason, and lifts weights in the family garage after father and son built a bench press and squat rack during the COVID pandemic.

"At his age, heֱs still got it," Tre Wilson said. "So, he helps me with like release work, even just conditioning, it doesnֱt really matter.ֱ

Napier said Wilson training with his father helped him acclimate to the college game quickly, despite not enrolling early like many of his 2023 freshman teammates. Wilson appeared in 10 games as a UF freshman, making seven starts.

"One of the things that I love about Tre is when you have a conversation with his dad, itֱs no nonsense," Napier said. "Heֱs raised Tre the right way. Treֱs a competitor, heֱs tough. He definitely understands the business side; he has great practice habits; he trains his butt off; and heֱs into the game. Heֱs a student of the game and heֱs worked on his skill."