Punt returners had better watch out for this guy (now #49) in 2009
Junior P Josh Wilber is a 2009 scholarship recipient that enrolled in the Spring at Northern Illinois, previously of Phoenix College. According to ChrisSailerKicking.com, he is ranked as one of the top 5 punters in the nation in the 2009 class and was also an NJCAA All-American last season. You can watch some of his previous highlights here on youtube.
Josh has turned some heads this fall and is currently right in the mix for the starting punting job along with full-time K Mike Salerno. I managed to miss #49 Saturday at the scrimmage because he was resting his leg after working hard in several straight practices. Josh was nice enough to take time and answer a set of questions from us and I'd like to thank him for that.
Red and Black Attack: First of all, how do you feel about your performance at camp so far? What aspects of your kicking game do you need to work on to prepare yourself for the season?
Josh Wilber: So far at camp I feel like I have worked hard and improved my form a lot. Drops were my only aspect of my game I was really focusing on, and over the summer I would do over 50 drops a night, just so I can see an improvement and the work seems to be paying off!
RABA: Rivals.com lists your 40 time as 4.8 and your bench max at 340 lbs. Are these number around the same? Tell us a little about your workout regimen. Do the coaches want you to lose, gain or keep your weight steady?
JW: Well my Rivals time was when I was in High School and I weighed about 180 lbs. My 40 time is slower now, but my bench is still about the same. Back then I used to be able to out run and lift all my opponents because I was a fitness freak, and I also played Linebacker, and Running Back. This summer I increased my cardio with Coach Klein and actually have been long distance running. So far this summer I have lost 22 pounds, Coach Kill thinks I am at a good weight but by the time season starts I plan to lose another 10 lbs. [Note: The current online roster posted early July lists him at 235]
RABA: Can you please tell us about how you made the transition from Linebacker in high school to being a Punter full-time? Will we see any big hits on punt coverage this upcoming season?
JW: Well I will be honest I still have the linebacker mentality inside me and from watching all the hitting and drills it makes me think about the old days. But once I was out of the Marines I punted with some well known college punters and some current NFL punters and realized I still had my leg and with the weight gain after the Marines my hang time increased drastically which made me pursue my career as a punter! And for this season if any punt returns get back towards me I will do my best to take out the returner!!!!
RABA: After high school, you joined the USMC. Why did you decide to choose that route and what did you gain from making that decision? Also, have you formed a bond with DE Jake Coffman because of your common service?
JW: One of my best friends Jason Peterson was enlisting in the Military, and convinced me to joining under a buddy system with him. This happened to be one of the best decisions in my life because it made me into the person I am today. The Military gave me leadership abilities, discipline, and courage. And from being here and learning that Jake Coffman is also a Veteran we actually have hung out, and talk all the time about our experiences in the Military!
RABA: When you were at Phoenix College, were you receiving a lot of looks from D-I schools? How did Northern Illinois find out about you and end up contacting you?
JW: My freshman year at PC I had offers coming in from Oregon St, and UNLV up until they found out I wasn't a qualifier out of High School. Last year I was setting up official visits in the spring with UTAH, NORTH CAROLINA, HAWAII, and COLORADO ST and I was still talking to NEW MEXICO, NORTH TEXAS, LOUISIANA TECH, and LSU. But with all those schools NIU seemed like they wanted me the most they contacted me from www.chrissailerkicking.com, and I actually have an Uncle who is a retired professor from NIU.
RABA: Looking at the differences between JC and D-I, does the speed of the game make a big impact on your punting? How is Nolan Owen as a long snapper and do you have to get your punts off faster?
JW: The speed is faster and I had to get used to it in spring ball, but since I have a quick get-off time and a good snapper in Nolan Owen I really don't worry about the pressure he is always on his mark.
RABA: What game (or games) on the upcoming schedule are you most excited about playing in?
JW: I am excited about every game this season especially Wisconsin because I have punted with their punter Brad Nortman at the Chris Sailer camp or Purdue because I have two cousins who attend school at Purdue.
RABA: What are your proudest accomplishments so far and what are your goals for the upcoming season?
JW: My proudest accomplishments are to be here playing football, and last year I received All-American Honors in JC. Goals this season involve having a punt average over 44 yards a punt, no punts blocked, I want to set the defense up with good field position every time I get a chance. And I want to make a bowl game.
RABA: What are some of your personal stats like your longest punt, hang-time or average?
JW: Longest punt in a game was 70 yards in the AIR! Best AVG was junior year in High School I had a 47 yard average. Best Hang time ever recorded was a 5.4 second hang time. One stat that I was proud of was last year I had over 25 punts inside the 20 yard line.
RABA: The fans can't help but notice the numerous tattoos that you have, which is pretty interesting for a punter. How many do you have and what are they of if you don't mind me asking?
JW: I have a bunch on my arm, back, and chest. My parents aren't too fond of them but they are proud of me for all my accomplishments, and the way I have grown into a successful man. and for the everyone who asks what I will do in the future about my tattoos, I plan to have a job in Human Resource Management where I will be wearing Business Suit Attire everyday to work.
RABA: What do you think about NIU and its campus so far? Favorite place to eat?
JW: NIU has a nice campus, and good facilities. Favorite place to eat would be my house because I am an amazing chef!
RABA: What are some of your hobbies or favorite things to do off of the football field? Something we may not know about you?
JW: I used to ride BMX, Dirtbikes, and Wakeboard. But now that I am here I liked to go to the LAKE/BEACH in Chicago, visit with my family that I have in Illinois, hang out with my girlfriend, and just train for football!
RABA: Thanks and good luck preparing for the season!