Russell Wilson (16), the All-ACC first-team quarterback, knew after a recruiting visit he wanted to play in an atmosphere like the one at N.C. State. "I love it here so far," he says now.
After being honored as the first freshman first-team All-ACC quarterback in history on Monday, N.C. State’s Russell Wilson smiled as he thought back to his first visit to Carter-Finley Stadium.
In 2004, he watched from the visitors’ section as his brother Harrison played wide receiver for Richmond against defensive end Mario Lawson and the Wolfpack’s ferocious defense.
He said he realized that day that he wanted to play college football in that kind of atmosphere.
On Monday, he said it has exceeded his expectations.
“I love it here so far,” Wilson said during a conference with reporters.
Wilson overcame a lot in his redshirt freshman season to earn honors as the ACC’s top quarterback. While he was in a five-player race for the starting spot in the preseason, his father suffered a stroke.
In the season opener against South Carolina, Wilson suffered a serious concussion that knocked him out of the next game. He returned against East Carolina only to have a shoulder injury keep him out of another game.
He bounced back to lead the ACC in passing efficiency, total offense and touchdown passes, and threw just one interception all season. At season’s end, he has a school-record 226 passes without an interception as N.C. State (6-6, 4-4 ACC) awaits a possible bowl selection this week.
Wilson is proudest of sparking a four-game winning streak that allowed a team that started 2-6 to get bowl eligible.
“To win those games that we’ve won, when you’re down in the dumps and it looks like you have no light at the end of the tunnel, our team realized we could persevere and kept pushing and won some games at the end,” Wilson said.
For his first season, at least, it was better than Wilson had even imagined when he first set foot in Carter-Finley. His father has been well enough to attend Russell’s last two home games.
And Wilson has established himself as the ACC’s premier quarterback.
- Ken Tysiac