Growing up in LaSalle, Ont., Luke Willson never said "dad, I'm going to the Super Bowl."
But that's exactly where Willson finds himself, about to play tight end for the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII against the Denver Broncos at Met Life Stadium in New Jersey. Kickoff is 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
"He had all the dreams young kids had, but he never said ‘dad, I’m going to the Super Bowl,'" Willson's father Mike said from his New Jersey hotel room Friday.
Luke Willson played high school football at St. Thomas of Villanova in LaSalle. He then played for Rice University in Houston, TX, before being drafted by the Seahawks in 2013.
"Things have gone so fast, he hasn’t had time to reflect on his accomplishment," Mike Willson said. "We’re still in a state of shock. It’s surreal, to be honest."
Luke Willson was perhaps the only Seahawks player who felt at home Tuesday during media day at Prudential Arena, home of the New Jersey Devils.
He played hockey through his sophomore year of high school and was genuinely psyched to be in an NHL arena.
"I thought it was kind of cool to be here," said Luke Willson, a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs. "I was a left winger, grinding forward-type of guy. I have two brothers and we would play on the street in front of the house, go to spring camps, played all the time. I played a lot of hockey."
Asked if any of his teammates could lace up the skates, he was brutally honest: "No, definitely not. No way."
Luke Willson's brothers, twins Eric and Greg, were to arrive in New Jersey on Friday night. His mom Wilma and sister Rachel arrived with his dad Thursday night.
They had a family dinner together.
"He’s ready to go. The team feels good," Mike Willson said.
However, Mike Willson admitted having a son in the Super Bowl is "nerve racking."
The family will have end zone seats in row 24 of the lower bowl Sunday.
The twins are bringing a Canadian flag.
"We’re going to represent Canada," Mike Willson said. "We’ve been getting a lot of good luck. The support in Essex County he’s gotten … is really quite incredible."
Other Canadians who could see action Sunday include Luke Willson's teammate, punter Jon Ryan, who is from Saskatchewan and Scarborough's Orlando Franklin, who plays on the offensive line for Denver.
Willson also played football for the Essex Ravens of the Ontario Varsity Football League while growing up. The club will host a Super Bowl party at the Serbian Centre for all current and past players on Sunday.