"It's coming along real good," said Wilson of joining the first team. "I'm starting to catch on to things way better than the first year because the first year was all new to me. Starting to study film better and learn what our opponent is doing."
His second year in the 3-4 system has made all the difference and gave the coaching staff the confidence to give Wilson the nod.
"It feels real good," said Wilson. "I think I've improved on reading my keys better, getting to know and understand the offense better."
The efforts from Jeremiah Toma and Patrick Su'a helped lead a massive turnaround for the defense in 2012, so it may come as a surprise that Wilson and Mickelsen have jumped into the starting lineup. Toma and Su'a will still be in the rotation, giving the new starters leadership and advice along the way.
"Toma and Su'a are great leaders," Wilson said. "They help us, like when we make a mistake, they tell us to come over and they'll talk to us about what we did wrong and how we can make it better. They're both good leaders on and off the field."
With the depth chart settled, the four inside linebackers have turned their focus to Rutgers, a power team that will look to establish the run game early. The depth at the position will allow them to use their personnel differently to match opposing offenses.
"Focus on their run because they are a power team," Wilson said about preparing for Rutgers. "So we have to fit on the run and make it harder for them to run the ball and stop them."
Wilson and Mickelsen will be two of the five new faces starting for the Bulldog defense on Thursday. Senior outside linebacker Nat Harrison, sophomore safety Charles Washington, and junior college transfer Curtis Riley are all listed to make their first starts for Fresno State against Rutgers.