Perhaps no road to the NFL has been longer than that of Dolphins cornerback Jimmy Wilson. The rookie was accused of murder in 2007, sat in jail for more than two years, beat the charge, and is now getting a shot in pro football.
The Palm Beach Post reports the University of Montana product was visiting his grandmother in Lancaster, Calif., when she received a call from his aunt. She claimed she was being abused by her boyfriend. Wilson hurried over and got into an argument with the man, Jimmy Smoot. Someone pulled out a rifle, shots were fired, Smoot died, and Wilson panicked. He took off to Montana. On his return to California, police arrested him on a first-degree murder charge.
Wilson was unable to cover his $2 million bail, so he remained in jail for more than two years until his trial ended in a hung jury, with the vote 11-1 to acquit.
The case was tried again, after nine more months in prison, Wilson was acquitted, getting his freedom on July 9, 2009.
Following his time in jail, Wilson picked up construction work. Last summer he decided to chase his NFL dreams again.
He contacted Montana's first-year coach, Robin Pflugrad, for the chance to return and play out his senior season.
After much debate, Pflugrad took the PR hit and allowed Wilson to return.
"After all the news reports, the flak I received after going to jail, it was huge on his part," Wilson told the Post. "He told me he was putting his neck on the line to give me another chance. I really appreciate him for that. He jump-started my dream."
Following that final season for the Grizzlies, the Dolphins drafted Wilson in the seventh round of last April's NFL Draft.
Dolphins coach Tony Sparano has had good things to say about Wilson so far during camp.
"We've given a lot of people second chances, and we believe in that first of all," Sparano said. "With that being said, he is going to be a good player. I'm excited this guy has this opportunity and certainly it has been a long time coming for Jimmy."
Vontae Davis and Sean Smith are the starting corners for Miami, while Wilson is listed fourth on the team's depth chart at left cornerback. So Wilson will have to get it done on special teams to make the Dolphins.