Tuesday, August 3, 2010

State's Wilson in command in QB race

It would be easy to misconstrue N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien's comments on quarterback Russell Wilson from last week's ACC media kickoff.

O'Brien said there's a chance Wilson will be rusty because he missed spring practice to play baseball and hasn't played football since the season finale against North Carolina last season. O'Brien said he wants backup Mike Glennon to challenge Wilson for the starting job, and O'Brien genuinely likes Glennon's skills and temperament.

But O'Brien also knows how good Wilson is at handling multiple responsibilities, and he doesn't expect that to suddenly change because Wilson played minor league baseball this summer.

"Russell prepares for everything," O'Brien said. "He's mentally strong about a lot of things. It would surprise me more if he wasn't able to handle it."

Sure enough, Wilson prepared for football while he was playing baseball. He lifted weights three or four times a week, doing a combination of the N.C. State football and his prescribed baseball workouts, which he said are quite similar.

He threw the football with Tri-City Dust Devils assistant coach Anthony Sanders, who Wilson said signed with Arizona to play football before deciding to play pro baseball right out of high school. On bus rides, Wilson studied N.C. State's playbook.

He said his goal is to make all the plays so familiar that it feels like driving in his car in his own neighborhood, where every turn and lane change is ingrained in his memory. And Wilson doesn't sound like a quarterback who thinks his job is in jeopardy.

"I'm trying to be one of the best quarterbacks in the nation," he said. "I'm not just trying to get the starting job. I'm trying to be the best each and every Saturday. That's my mind set."

Glennon is seven inches taller than Wilson with a stronger arm, and might ultimately be a better NFL prospect because of those skills. But Wilson was first-team All-ACC as a redshirt freshman and led the ACC with 31 touchdown passes last season.

O'Brien said it's comforting to know that he has two quarterbacks who he believes have the talent to get N.C. State to the ACC championship game. That, indeed, is a luxury.

And if you know Wilson's track record, there should be no doubt that he will re-establish himself at the top of the quarterback depth chart shortly after practice begins at 4:30 p.m. today.

It is Glennon's job to compete with Wilson. But Wilson isn't going to let the starting job be taken away.

- Ken Tysiac