Former Houston cornerback Howard Wilson's career was suddenly put on hold.
After a promising freshman debut that saw him make three interceptions, he missed all but three games the following year because of a torn ACL.
Granted a medical hardship by the NCAA, Wilson bounced back in a big way, leading the Cougars with five more picks in addition to 10 pass breakups and 54 tackles.
"When I sat the year out, it made me love the game more. It made me cherish it and not take it for granted," said Wilson, whom the Browns drafted in the fourth round this past weekend.
"It made me take every play like it was my last. I was playing every play like it was my last. Anytime that I had the opportunity to get the ball, that's what I was going to do."
That approach served the rangy, explosive cornerback well in his first and only season as a starter. Now, WIlson joins a young Browns secondary that struggled to take the ball away last season.
"I feel like I am physical corner that can take the ball away. The ball is in the air, it has to be mine," said Wilson, who finished with 10 interceptions at Houston. "I go and get it by any means … I just have to go get it every time."
Wilson was so effective at taking away the ball, he averaged an interception every 15 targets, according to NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein's pre-draft profile.
Zierlein described Wilson as a "smooth athlete with excellent length who has a long history of making plays on the football" and has the physical toolbox to "become a good NFL starter with time."
Wilson, a DeSoto, Texas native, said he's looking forward to developing chemistry with fellow rookies like Texas A&M defensive end and first-overall pick Myles Garrett and Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers when they report for minicamp next week.
He's also eager to prove why the Browns traded up in the fourth round to draft him.
"They committed themselves to me," he said, "and that is what I'm going to do to this organization and football team."