Sophomore Cross Wilkinson is a transfer from University of Toledo. Wilkinson is unable to play this fall season due to the cancellation of fall sports, but is training offseason to prepare for 2021. (Courtesy of Cross Wilkinson)

From direct message to under center: The fortuitous chain of events that led Cross Wilkinson to Lehigh football

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Cross Wilkinson, a 6-foot-3-inch, 205-pound quarterback from Wheeling, West Virginia, spent his first two collegiate seasons at the University of Toledo, where he didn’t attempt a single pass in two seasons.

After only appearing in one game his freshman year, Wilkinson retained eligibility, and, following the conclusion of the 2019 season, entered the transfer portal.

One night in the transfer process, Wilkinson was reading through old Twitter conversations and came across a direct message with Mike Kashurba, the current Lehigh football defensive coordinator who served as the defensive coordinator for Holy Cross at the time of their initial exchange.

Wilkinson reached out to Kashurba, who took initiative to reconnect Wilkinson with the Mountain Hawks the following morning. A fortuitous chain of events landed Wilkinson in brown and white, and he couldn’t be more excited for the new chapter in his academic and football career.

The sophomore quarterback is a poised pocket passer with a strong arm. He has yet to showcase his skills at the collegiate level, but he plans to use his prolonged offseason to continue striving to become the best quarterback and teammate he can be.

“My preparation is continuing to include intensive film study (and) throwing sessions to build unity and timing,” Wilkinson said. “I look forward to working alongside every member of the quarterback room and assisting in our position (to make it) the best it possibly can be no matter who is on the field.”

Wilkinson views the role of the quarterback as a team job.

“There are multiple quarterbacks on a roster at any given moment, and only one plays at a time,” he said.
“I see the position as being made up as one by the collective unit, similar to that of the offensive and defensive lines.”

Despite not showcasing his talent at the collegiate level thus far, the three-star prospect established his presence in the football world as he led Wheeling Park High School to a 2015 state title. In high school, Wilkinson threw for 6,447 passing yards and recorded 64 touchdowns, making him the third-ranked high school football prospect out of West Virginia in 2018.

Wilkinson won’t be competing in the fall due to the cancellation of fall sports, but head coach Tom Gilmore and his team are excited at the prospect of having Wilkinson in Bethlehem for the 2021.

Gilmore described the transfer process as “long and grueling,” but he believes Wilkinson will fit in well on the field and around campus.

“(Cross) has all of the tools to be a successful student-athlete on South Mountain,” Gilmore said.

Although Wilkinson has not had the chance to meet all of his new teammates, he has already made an impact in his position group.

 “Cross seems like a nice guy,” said sophomore quarterback Nigel Summerville. “He’s quiet, but he’s a hard worker. I think he has a great work ethic. I’m looking forward to getting out there with him.”

Wilkinson said transferring, no matter the situation, is a daunting leap.

“Not knowing how others may perceive you and your situation and where, when and if your services will even be needed is where strong and hearty faith comes into the play,” he said. “And I could not be more thankful for how my process resulted.”

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