Bielema not surprised Wilson starting for Seahawks
MADISON Some people might be surprised that rookie Russell Wilson is the Seattle Seahawks’ starting quarterback. His college coach isn’t one of them.
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said Monday that since Wilson was drafted by the Seahawks, he has been telling pretty much anybody who would listen that Wilson would end up winning the starting job.
“By NCAA rules, I cannot bet — but I bet you I’ve told hundreds of people since draft day to where we are that he will be the starter,” Bielema said.
Bielema said he exchanged text messages with Wilson to congratulate him.
Wilson led the Badgers to a Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl berth last season after quitting professional baseball and transferring to Wisconsin. He was eligible to play for the Badgers right away because he already had graduated from North Carolina State.
Despite his excellent mobility, Wilson wasn’t regarded as a top pro prospect going into the draft, mainly because of his 5-11 size.
The Seahawks picked Wilson in the third round, and he beat out former Green Bay Packers backup Matt Flynn — who was expected to start after signing a big-money free agent deal with the Seahawks in the offseason.
“I know they paid a lot of money to get Flynn and all that great stuff,” Bielema said. “But until you see what Russell Wilson does behind the scenes — you obviously see what he does on game days — even if he wasn’t going to be the starter, you’d better hope that if you were the starter, if you were Flynn or whoever, that you’d better not roll your ankle one day or have the flu or miss practice. ... He is a relentless, relentless competitor, and he’s so contagious.”
Bielema said someone sent him a video clip that included footage of Wilson talking to his new teammates.
“Just to see him kind of engage in that locker room, I walked out of there, I’m like, ‘He’s got that locker room wrapped around his finger right now,’” Bielema said.
And Bielema said he has seen highlights of Seahawks coach Pete Carroll interacting with Wilson.
“That head coach likes that player, and you can tell that,” Bielema said.
With the Badgers preparing for their season opener against Northern Iowa on Saturday, Bielema announced that cornerback Peniel Jean broke his foot last week. Jean, a redshirt sophomore who was being counted on to play a critical role this season, has had surgery and will miss 4-6 weeks.
“(He’s) A guy that we were counting on, banking on, a guy that’s done a lot of really good things, so that hurt a little bit,” Bielema said.