***4/29/11 UPDATE: N.C. State has released Russell Wilson to pursue the possibility of playing QB elsewhere this year. Read more here…***
With each passing day, and every passing pitch, the question of whether Russell Wilson will play another down of college football looms larger.
Yesterday, ESPN’s Heather Dinch questioned how serious N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien was on his stance that Wilson would be the Wolfpack’s backup should he decide to return for his Senior season.
With Russell being a two-time All ACC performer, and still the only QB in ACC history to be named First-Team All ACC as a Freshman, I suppose Coach O’Brien’s position may seem somewhat harsh — if not altogether confusing — on the surface, but what reasonable alternative did O’Brien have when faced with the prospect of his returning field general missing all of Spring and Fall practice due to baseball
Having a talent the caliber of Mike Glennon — one arguably more suited to N.C. State’s plans on offense this season — waiting in the wings certainly made O’Brien’s decision more tenable, but Wilson’s decision to play a full season of minor league baseball this year is clearly the driving force behind The Russell Wilson Question — and possibly in more expansive ways than previously thought.
Drafted by the Colorado Rockies with the 140th pick in the 2010 Draft, Wilson signed a professional contract last summer and is currently assigned to Class A Asheville — where things aren’t going particularly well.
Through 12 games, Wilson is currently batting .162 for the Tourists: 6 – 37, with 6 walks, and 17 strikeouts. He’s also been charged with one error at 2B, but let’s not pile on, okay?
Even if one writes those numbers off as (more of) a “bad start” (he batted .230 in rookie ball last year), one has to wonder if Wilson may soon question just how promising the prospects of several years — and thousands of hours on charter buses — as a minor league baseball player are.
After all, we’re talking about a kid that has put up some very impressive numbers in three seasons as a BCS QB: 8,545 passing yards, and 76 TD’s to 26 INT’s. Not too shabby for someone most schools wanted to play CB.
Notwithstanding Wilson’s heralded intangibles, throwing in an additional 1,089 rushing yards to go with 17 TD’s on the ground leaves us with the stat sheet of a very dynamic college football player. A player with another year — a player that likely needs another year, to bolster and improve his resume for professional football.
Yes, despite not fitting the prototypical mold of an NFL QB, I’d posit that Russell’s brighter future lies in football. Whether that entails being a 5-year NFL backup, or perhaps a successful CFL starter, missing out on his last year of collegiate eligibility could prove catastrophic to such opportunities.
With that in mind, Russell would be wise to make it back in time for Fall practice. However disheartening it may be to Wolfpack fans, he may be even wiser to enroll as a graduate transfer at another school.
Just to be clear, that’s not to say any part of Russell Wilson would ideally want to play QB anywhere other than N.C. State. However, given Tom O’Brien’s (by all means reasonable) stance on the QB position this year, absent Mike Glennon getting injured — or just completely wetting the bed — I’m not sure Wilson starting for the Wolfpack is a reasonable possibility.
Even if it was — say, if Russell could come back and beat out Glennon by Week 4, or something — I doubt he would want to put the team, staff, and possibly even Glennon in such a position at such a relatively late juncutre. Given what we know about Wilson and his character, I’d assume he would consider those factors as much as he considers what’s best for him.
That said, Russell is potentially left with taking full advantage of newly adopted NCAA Proposal 2010-52.
In short, this rule grants immediate eligibility to early graduates (with remaining eligibility) — like Russell — who enroll at a school offering any graduate program not offered by their previous institution. Thus, given Wilson has never transferred before, he could potentially start at QB for the FBS school of his choice (subject to permission/restrictions from N.C. State).
Under the totality of the circumstances, I seriously doubt N.C. State would object to Wilson’s request to play elsewhere this year — within reason. That is, I wouldn’t expect to see Russell starting for another ACC team this season; nor for Liberty, South Alabama, Cincinnati, or Central Michigan (the Wolfpack’s out-of-conference competition). Of course, I also wouldn’t expect Russell Wilson to want to compete –directly or indirectly — against N.C. State.
But, at South Carolina? Tennessee? Auburn? Alabama? Ole Miss? Richmond? Elon? Appalacian State? Any school meeting the above criteria that may or may not be in need of some serious help at the QB position? Why not?
It could very well be in his best interest. At least until Russell Wilson — the Class A Minor Leaguer — eclipses the Mendoza Line.
The Gingerhead Man gets full credit for the inspiration behind this post — he’s been talking Frump’s ear off about the prospect of this happening for a good three to four weeks now.