In the three prior matchups between the Michigan Wolverines and the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors, there wasn’t a single Hawaii-born player donning the maize and blue.
This Saturday, junior wide receiver Roman Wilson will change that.
“I just feel so blessed,” Wilson said. “Growing up, I wouldn’t have expected to be at Michigan and to play my hometown. It feels like such a surreal moment.”
While Wilson has Michigan ties — his mother being from St. Ignace and his father being from Kalamazoo — the Aloha State native had been the only home he had ever known prior to coming to Ann Arbor.
When Wilson was young, the Rainbow Warriors saw the peak of their successes, something he considers an inspiration.
“It means a whole lot,” Wilson said. “I know their head coach Timmy Chang was an inspiration for a lot of people growing up. Colt Brennan, there were a couple of receivers that I knew and kind of watched throughout the years.
“I feel like when people go to their hometown and they live there, it means so much to their community. You look up and look at these role models in your life and realize you can be like them, too.”
While Wilson grew up an Oregon Ducks fan, the Rainbow Warriors were always close to his heart.
“They were my very first offer,” Wilson said. “I remember I was flying back home and walking off the airplane one of the coaches called me up and offered, and I just remember standing there just smiling uncontrollably.”
Ultimately, the Wolverines managed to snag Wilson’s services, with Oregon coming up just short.
While Hawai’i wasn’t heavily in the conversation at the end, Wilson still has love for his home state.
“I always thought I could play at Hawai’i,” Wilson said. “Kind of sucks it didn’t turn out that way, they were always the cool school to look up to. I’d go to their games and things like that.”