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Hall of Fame visit gives Mack Wilson reason to reconnect with mentor Ray Lewis

Mack Wilson snapped a photo and sent a text during his Pro Football Hall of Fame visit Tuesday with the rest of the Browns' rookie class.

The picture was of the bust of Ray Lewis, the 13-time Pro Bowl linebacker who wreaked havoc on the AFC North with the Baltimore Ravens throughout his entire NFL career. The recipient of the text message … was Ray Lewis.

"He's a guy I always talk to year-round, text, talk," Wilson said Wednesday during the 2019 Cleveland Browns Football Camp in Berea, an event that brought out all 25 of the team's rookies to work and play alongside youth football campers.

"I sent him a picture of his bust and he said you can get there one day. Just play fast until you can't no more."

It's hard to find anyone looking more forward to training camp than Wilson, the former Alabama star who fell to the Browns in the fifth round. That's when the pads go on, of course, and when Wilson hopes to elevate his game to another level after getting a grasp on the playbook throughout OTAs and minicamp.

Wilson typically worked alongside fellow rookie, third-round selection Sione Takitaki, with the third defense throughout the spring. That's not where he wants to be in September, and he believes there's an opportunity to improve his status when the practices increase in tempo and physicality.

"I just feel like there's an opportunity out there for everybody," Wilson said. "I feel like the organization doesn't just draft players to draft players, so I feel like there's an opportunity out there. Just go compete, work hard, learn as much as I can from the older guys. I'm going to work hard every day. I'm not just going to be a guy that comes in here and be a body. I want to contribute as early as I can.

"Coming into training camp I'll be well-prepared. I'll be able to practice fast and give the coaches an idea of how I'll really look going forward."

Wilson first connected with Lewis last year when he and Michigan's Devin Bush joined Lewis at a camp at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Wilson said Lewis calls him "young lion," and the two have remained in touch ever since they first met.

Wilson said he plans to heed the words of advice Lewis has passed along frequently over the past year.

"You've just got to work hard, play fast, play with your hair on fire," Wilson said. "At the next level, you've got to be able to play faster and read plays faster. It's just the changed speed of the next level. I've got to adjust to that and I'll be all right."