Russell Wilson chooses Wisconsin
By Chris Jenkins
MILWAUKEE ó Former North Carolina State quarterback Russell Wilson is headed to Wisconsin, potentially solving one of the biggest hurdles standing between the Badgers and a Big Ten title.
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said Monday that Wilson will compete for the Badgersí starting job in the fall. The two-sport star most recently played in the Colorado Rockiesí minor league system but apparently is ready to hang up his baseball spikes.
ěThis is an unusual situation, especially for a program that prides itself on developing players throughout their careers, as we do here at Wisconsin,î Bielema said in a statement released by the school. ěHowever, this is a special situation and Russell is the type of player and person that fits very well with our team.î
Wilson has one year of eligibility remaining and can play right away. He will attend graduate school at UW.
Wilson also considered Auburn before settling on Wisconsin.
In an appearance on ESPNís ěCollege Football Liveî Monday afternoon, Wilson said he didnít seek any assurances from Wisconsinís coaching staff about being the No. 1 quarterback.
ěI never want to be told that I have the starting job,î Wilson said. ěI never believe in that that. I believe that being the competitor that I am, you have to compete every single day.î
Still, Wilsonís arrival could fill a glaring need for the Badgers, who must replace the solid play of quarterback Scott Tolzien after their run to the Rose Bowl. Wilson could make the Badgers a favorite in the conference.
Wisconsinís offense failed to score a touchdown in the spring game in April as prospective starters Jon Budmayr and Joe Brennan both struggled under center. Joel Stave appeared to be the sharpest quarterback of the bunch in the spring game, but he is a true freshman.
Bielema said at the time that those three quarterbacks ěarenít anywhere where we need them to be for us to be a competitive team in the fall.î Another potential starter, Curt Phillips, will miss the season after having knee surgery.
In his three seasons with the Wolfpack, Wilson threw for 8,545 yards and 76 touchdowns with 26 interceptions.
In 13 games last season, Wilson completed 58.4 percent of his passes for 3,563 yards with 28 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Wilson also rushed for 435 yards and nine touchdowns last season.
The 5-foot-11, 201-pound Wilson is a native of Richmond, Va.
Wilson was drafted by the Rockies in the fourth round last year and hit .228 with three home runs and 15 RBIs as a second baseman for their Single-A affiliate in Asheville, N.C. The Asheville team confirmed Wilson will not play with the Tourists or any other team in the Rockiesí organization for the remainder of the 2011 season.
The Rockies placed Wilson on the minor league restricted list and will retain his baseball rights should he decide to return to professional baseball.
Wilsonís desire to play both sports ultimately led to his early departure from N.C. State. Coach Tom OíBrien released the all-Atlantic Coast Conference quarterback two months ago largely because his baseball commitments kept him from taking part in offseason workouts.
ěWe appreciate all of Russellís contributions to NC State, and we wish him nothing but the best in his future,î OíBrien said in a statement.