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Utah Athletics Mourns the Passing of Larry Wilson

Sep 18, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY – The University of Utah mourns the passing of All-American and Pro Football Hall of Famer Larry Wilson, who passed away on Sept. 17 at the age of 82. Wilson, known for making the "safety blitz" famous, was a standout two-way player at Utah from 1957-59.

He also was named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1994 and was named to the NFL's 100th Anniversary All-Time Team in 2019.

"We are saddened to learn of the passing of Larry Wilson," head coach Kyle Whittingham said. "He was an All-American as a two-way starter, and the first player from the University of Utah to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We mourn with his family and friends, and the entire Utah Football family."

Wilson was named third-team All-America and first-team All-Skyline Conference at running back for Utah in 1959 after totaling 559 yards on 98 carries (5.7 ypc) with eight touchdowns, ranking eighth in the nation in rushing scores and fourth in touchdowns from scrimmage that year. He was inducted into the Crimson Club Hall of Fame in 1985, finishing his career with 230 carries, 1,220 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, also averaging 26.1 yards on kick returns during his time at Utah.

The Rigby, Idaho, native was picked in the seventh round of the NFL Draft in 1960 by the St. Louis Cardinals, quickly making a name for himself on the defensive side of the ball as a pro. In 13 seasons in the NFL, Wilson had 52 career interceptions with 800 return yards and five touchdowns, earned eight Pro Bowl invitations and six All-NFL selections, and famously recorded a pick-six with casts on both hands for broken fingers in 1965.

Wilson's standout season in the NFL came in 1966 when he notched at least one interception in seven straight games, finishing the season with 10, which led the league in interceptions that year. He would go on to earn NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1966, cementing himself in Cardinals history.

After retiring from football, Wilson worked in the front office for the Cardinals, serving positions on the coaching staff, including becoming the interim head coach in 1979, along with being named the Director of Pro Personnel in 1977. He also was the general manager from 1988-1993 and was vice president of the club until 2003, when he retired.

He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1978. His jersey number, No. 8, is one of only five numbers retired by the Cardinals franchise.