Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tudor's Take: Can N.C. State's Wilson stand tall in NFL?

The most interesting game within the game at tonight's Champs Sports Bowl relates to the future of N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson.

A redshirt junior and one of the most popular football players in Wolfpack history, the 6:30 p.m. (ESPN) game against West Virginia (9-3) could be Wilson's last at the school.

A professional baseball player in the Colorado Rockies farm system, the 5-foot-11 Wilson is widely expected to walk away from football when the game ends.

He went through Senior Day ceremonies on Nov. 13 against Wake Forest, and promply led the Pack to a 38-3 win.

Even so, Wilson didn't completely rule out a return for more football, nor has he done so during the month or so of bowl preparations.

Wilson steadfastly has stated his desire to one day play in the NFL. Technically, he could even be selected in the April NFL Draft.

According to Wolfpack offensive coordinator Dana Bible, Wilson has the arm and intellect to become an NFL quarterback.

The obvious downside is his lack of height by today's NFL standards.

Prototypical NFL quarterbacks for the past 10-15 years have been tall pocket passers. Scouts look for college quarterbacks with at least 6-foot-3 heights, long arms, big hands and decent foot quickness.

But there are exceptions, most notably Drew Brees (6-0, 205) of the New Orleans Saints and Michael Vick (6-0, 215) of the Philadelphia Eagles.

"Size is what you want to make of it," Wilson said four days before he led the Pack to a 29-25 win at North Carolina. "It can stop [you] or you can overcome it. It all comes down to what you can produce on the field."

On current NFL rosters, there are more than a dozen players shorter than 6-2, and several are or have been fruitful players.

Included in that group is former ECU star David Garrard (6-1, 220) of the Jacksonville Jaguars in addition to Brees and Vick.

Another is Cleveland rookie Colt McCoy (6-1, 215), who was playing well until suffering an ankle injury in mid November.

The smallest quarterback currently listed is Seneca Wallace (5-11, 207) of Cleveland, who played at Iowa State and made the Seattle roster as a fourth-round draft pick in 2003.

"I don't think much about my height," Wallace said after signing with the Browns at the end of 2009. "Why worry about something you can't do anything about? Just go out there and play, and show 'em what you can do."

In leading State to an 8-4 record and near misses in each of the losses, Wilson has established that he can do a lot at the college level.

But after tonight, Wilson soon will have to determine if football is worth putting his baseball career in some risk.

-- Caulton Tudor


Anonymous said...

Batter-Up time !!