Wilson will join Badgers
Wilson was released from his scholarship in April by N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien after deciding to play professional baseball in the Colorado Rockies organization this spring. Instead of participating in spring football practice, the senior quarterback became the most sought-after free agent in college football this summer.
He chose Wisconsin over Auburn or remaining with the Asheville Tourists, the Rockies' Class A minor league affiliate he left Monday.
"I think that with their (Wisconsin's) coaching and what they have there from their experience and the tradition they have there in terms of fans and players who have played there before, I'm truly excited about it," Wilson said on ESPN's "College Football Live" on Monday. "I think it's a great situation for me."
A two-time All-ACC selection, Wilson obtained his communications degree from N.C. State in 2010 and will enroll in a graduate program at Wisconsin, allowing him to compete immediately without sitting out a year.
Asked whether he would have stayed at N.C. State if he had made his decision not to play baseball sooner, Wilson acknowledged he might have been back with the Wolfpack under different circumstances.
"Yeah, definitely," Wilson said. "I love N.C. State. It's a great place. I'm truly blessed to have gone there. I'm truly blessed to have graduated in three years from N.C. State and get the opportunity to play football and baseball."
Wilson had been playing for the Tourists but left the team Monday morning. The Rockies drafted Wilson in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. He was hitting .228 for the Tourists with three home runs and 15 RBIs in 61 games this season.
In a statement released by the Tourists, the Rockies said Wilson would not play again for the Tourists or any other team in the Colorado organization for the remainder of the 2011 season.
Wilson received a $250,000 signing bonus from the Rockies, but it remains unclear how much, if any, of that bonus he has had to return to pursue football.
In his three years at N.C. State, the Richmond, Va., native threw for 76 touchdowns and ran for 17 more. The record-setting quarterback was available only because of a disagreement between Wilson and O'Brien over Wilson's desire to play baseball and football.
When Wilson decided to play minor league baseball instead of attending spring practice for the second straight season, O'Brien announced that Mike Glennon would start for the Wolfpack this fall. The matter came to a head on April 29 when N.C. State released Wilson from his scholarship, clearing the way for him to transfer somewhere else for his final year of football eligibility.
"We appreciate all of Russell's contributions to N.C. State, and we wish him nothing but the best in his future," O'Brien said in a statement released by the school.
N.C. State baseball coach Elliott Avent praised Wilson in a statement Monday.
"Russell Wilson was one of the most competitive and disciplined student-athletes I've ever had the pleasure to coach," Avent said. "He was a first-class representative of our program and our university, both on and off the field. Our staff and players wish him nothing but the best at Wisconsin and in the future."
It will be interesting to see how the scrambling quarterback, who excelled at throwing long and making plays on the run, will fit in the Badgers' run-first-run-second offense, one that was four yards from having three 1,000-yard rushers last year. Starting quarterback Scott Tolzien graduated, and the Badgers' other returning quarterbacks have thrown a total of 10 career passes.
"Russell will come in and compete for the starting quarterback position," Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said in a statement. "This is an unusual situation, especially for a program that prides itself on developing players throughout their careers, as we do here at Wisconsin. However, this is a special situation and Russell is the type of player and person that fits very well with our team."
Said Wilson: "I don't think anything changes. When you play in a great offense with great players, you just have to take it one play at a time."
Wisconsin, which lost to TCU in the Rose Bowl last season, opens the season Sept. 1 at home against UNLV. The Badgers also play Oregon State, South Dakota, Nebraska, Indiana, Purdue and Penn State at home; travel to Michigan State, Ohio State, Minnesota and Illinois; and face Northern Illinois in a neutral-site game in Chicago.
RUSSELL WILSON TIMELINE
July 23, 2006: Wilson, a rising senior at Richmond (Va.) Collegiate High, commits to play football and baseball for N.C. State.
Fall 2007: Wilson redshirts during football season.
Spring 2008: Wilson hits .296 with two home runs and eight RBIs in 32 games as a freshman on N.C. State's baseball team. Tom O'Brien appointed football coach.
Aug. 22, 2008: O'Brien picks Wilson, a redshirt freshman, as his starting quarterback for the Wolfpack's opener against South Carolina.
Dec. 29, 2008: Wilson finishes with 1,955 passing yards and 17 passing touchdowns to go with four rushing TDs. He is the ACC's rookie of the year and first-team All-ACC quarterback.
April 18, 2009: Wilson plays the first half of N.C. State's spring football game, then leaves to play in the baseball team's home game against Florida State. After attending every spring practice the year before, Wilson is allowed to miss some practices to play for the baseball team.
Spring 2009: After missing the first seven weeks of baseball season while recovering from a knee injury, Wilson hits .236 for N.C. State's baseball team, with no home runs and 10 RBIs in 27 games.
Summer 2009: Wilson plays for the Gastonia Grizzlies of the wooden-bat Coastal Plain League, hitting .205 in 25 games.
Nov. 28, 2009: N.C. State's season ends without a bowl bid despite a closing win over North Carolina. Wilson throws for 3,027 yards and 31 touchdowns.
Jan. 20, 2010: N.C. State announces that Wilson will not participate in spring football practice.
May 2010: Wilson completes his undergraduate degree in communications. In 47 games for N.C. State, he hits .306 with three home runs, 12 RBIs and nine stolen bases.
June 8, 2010: The Colorado Rockies draft Wilson in the fourth round of the Major League Baseball draft, with the 140th overall pick. Wilson and the Rockies agree to a deal that will allow him to continue to play college football.
June 9, 2010: Wilson's father, Harrison Wilson III, dies of complications from diabetes in Richmond, Va.
June 29, 2010: Wilson makes his professional baseball debut for the Class A Tri-City (Wash.) Dust Devils. Before leaving for football practice at the end of July, he hits .230 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in 32 games.
Dec. 28, 2010: In what turns out to be his final game at N.C. State, Wilson throws for two touchdowns in the Wolfpack's 23-7 win over West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl. A second-team All-ACC selection at quarterback, he throws for 3,563 yards and 28 touchdowns and runs for 437 yards and nine touchdowns.
Feb. 2, 2011: O'Brien says he doesn't expect Wilson to return to N.C. State. "Our plans are he's not coming back," the coach says.
April 16, 2011: Mike Glennon and Tyler Brosius split time at quarterback in N.C. State's spring game, while Wilson plays for the Class A Asheville Tourists. But Wilson also hasn't ruled out playing football. "I haven't closed the door at all," he says.
April 28, 2011: Wilson is chosen the Arthur Ashe Jr. Male Sports Scholar of the Year.
April 29, 2011: N.C. State announces that Wilson has been released from his football scholarship.
April 30, 2011: The day after N.C. State's announcement, Wilson says he would not have left N.C. State if O'Brien had promised him an equal opportunity to compete with Glennon for the starting job.
May 3, 2011: Rockies senior director of player development Marc Gustafson says Wilson has expressed no interest in playing football in the fall.
June 27, 2011: Wilson leaves the Tourists and announces that he will play for Wisconsin this fall. Two-sport athlete
In two partial seasons with the Low-A Tri-City Dust Devils and the Class A Asheville Tourists:
93 G, 315 ABs, .229 AVG., .354 OBP, .354 SLG, .710 OPS, 5 HR, 26 RBI, 72 H, 9 2B, 8 3B, 51 BB, 118 K, 19 SB, 8 CS. Played 2B.
In three seasons with N.C. State:
36 G, 682-1180 (57.8, 8,545 yards, 76 TDs, 26 INTs, 135.5 QB rating. Rushing — 362 ATTs, 1,083 yards, 17 TDs.N&O interactive