FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Chris Petersen knew he had a special player when he initially sent Kyle Wilson onto the field four games into the 2006 season.
"His freshman year, the first time we put him in - it was against Hawaii - he picked the ball off," the Boise State coach told Newsday on Friday. "So I'm thinking, 'OK.' It was early on and we put him in and they threw a deep pass. He fell off his guy and picked it off like he was a centerfielder.
"And away he went."
Wilson didn't need time to jog his memory Friday, quickly recalling one of his proudest moments faster than he can step in front of a wide receiver.
"I remember Coach saying get in there," Wilson said. "I saw the quarterback looking at me. I'm like, 'OK, I guess he's coming over here.' And I just remember getting my hands on it and the crowd going crazy."
Wilson hopes that same type of scenario unfolds with the Jets. He was introduced to the media Friday at the team's training facility, which is roughly a 30-minute trek down I-287 from his home in Piscataway, N.J.
He talked confidently but not arrogantly about his abilities. It's the way he always has been. At a young age, he knew he wanted to be in the NFL, even keeping a sign atop his bed to keep his eyes on his ultimate prize.
But now the 5-10, 194-pound cornerback officially has made it, getting selected by the Jets at No. 29 Thursday night and becoming only the second Boise State player to be drafted in the first round. He'll serve as the starting nickel back and likely as the punt returner.
His versatility should allow him to fit nicely into Rex Ryan's aggressive defense. So should his self-assured mental makeup, which appears to mirror Ryan's.
"When you think about a true competitor, that's what you'll think about Kyle," Petersen said. "He won't back down from anybody. If things don't go his way, he'll compete harder. He's just a tremendous, tremendous competitor."
That competitiveness came at an early age. Wilson is the youngest of three siblings and always wanted to be better than his two older brothers, Gerry Jr. and Vincent. Both also were cornerbacks; Gerry Jr. played for Princeton and Vincent suited up for Iowa and Delaware.
"A house full of three boys, you know how that can get," Wilson said. "So they definitely set some high standards and I just wanted to go out and try to beat them at everything they did. I thought the world of them coming up. Those two just set the bar really high."
Now Wilson is concerned with proving himself each day in practice - and when the NFL's lights start shining brightly come the season opener in September.
"I feel a part of something special," Wilson said. "These guys have a good thing going here and I'm just trying to be a part of it and help out as much as I can."