SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Former Elkhart High School standout Jeffery Wilson wasn't selected during the National Football League draft, which concluded Saturday evening.
However, players who went undrafted are free agents eligible to sign with any team of his choosing.
About one hour after the draft concluded, ninersnation.com and other media sources reported Wilson had signed with the San Francisco 49ers.
“It's a blessing, and an opportunity to live out my dream,” said Wilson in a telephone interview with the Palestine Herald-Press on Monday afternoon. “I always wished this would happen.”
Wilson said the 49ers worked him out privately during the draft process — the only team to do so — with running backs coach Robert Turner Jr. present.
Recently, Wilson signed on with world-renowned sports agent, Leigh Steinburg.
Typically after the draft, agents make calls to prospective teams needing undrafted players. And that's part of how Wilson landed with the 49ers.
San Francisco has a limited number of running backs on the roster right now, with Matt Breida as the No. 1 option.
The 49ers also added former Minnesota Viking Jerick McKinnon in free agency, but Wilson certainly has a chance to make the roster. Joe Williams and Raheem Mostert also are on the roster.
“I want to be a part of the rebuilding process,” Wilson said. “I want to help them get back to the playoffs.”
The 49ers, under then first-year head coach Kyle Shanahan, were playing very good football at the close of the 2017 season — winning their final five games to finish with a 10-6 record.
San Francisco made a giant leap when the team traded for Jimmy Garoppolo from the New England Patriots before the trade deadline in October.
Wilson reported his family and he had a party in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, site of this year's NFL draft.
The draft website walterfootball.com listed Wilson as the 31st running back prospect in this year's crop of players.
Despite such a low projection, Wilson has been one of the most productive running backs in college football during the past two seasons.
Health has been worrisome, and Wilson missed the final three games of University of North Texas' 2017 season with a foot injury — which also prevented him from working out at the scouting combine in February.
In early April at his pro day inside UNT's Apogee Stadium, Wilson ran a hand-timed 4.56-second 40-yard dash — and the 49ers found that appealing enough to sign him.
The 49ers have told Wilson they'd like him to weigh between 205-210 pounds. Other teams were concerned with Jeffery's perceived “lack of size.”
Still, Wilson rushed for 1,215 yards and 16 TD and was a Conference USA player of the week once during the regular season for the Mean Green.
In the UNT record books, he's fourth all time in school history in rushing with 3,205 yards and third in rushing TD with 32.
Sam Wells, his football coach at Elkhart, was understandably proud of Wilson — who rushed for more than 5,000 yards as a junior and senior for the Elks, and participated in an all-star game in San Antonio.
“I'm super excited for him,” said Wells, who will be the new defensive coordinator at Troup for the upcoming 2018 season. “It's awesome to see kids succeed like this. I'm grinning from ear to ear. It's not too often one of your players has a chance to play in the NFL.”
Jeffery Wilson is the son of Jeffery Wilson, Sr., Angela Dudley and Lavonda Wilson, and the family still lives in Elkhart.