Thursday, September 1, 2011

Wilson off to fast start for Wisconsin

Russell Wilson seldom disappointed N.C. State fans in three seasons as the Wolfpack’s quarterback, and he didn’t let down Wisconsin fans Thursday night in his Badger debut.

Wilson passed for 255 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 62 yards and another score as No. 11-ranked Wisconsin crushed Nevada-Las Vegas 51-17 at Madison, Wis. Wilson directed the Badgers to seven touchdowns and an end-of-the-half field goal in eight possessions in a nationally televised season opener.
The addition of Wilson added sizzle to an ESPN Thursday night game that otherwise would have been ho-hum with a Big Ten power meeting UNLV, which was picked to finish seventh in the Mountain West preseason poll.

Wilson was a focal point of ESPN’s pre-game coverage, and he proved worthy of the attention. His first pass was good for 23 yards to Jared Abbrederis. Wilson threw his first touchdown pass with the Badgers, a 4-yarder to Montee Ball, just 3 minutes, 11 seconds into the game.

Although Wilson was 10-for-13 passing, the highlight of his night was an electric, 46-yard run for a touchdown late in the first half that was the longest rushing play of his career.
With 93 touchdowns combined throwing and passing in his career, second-best in ACC history, Wilson left N.C. State under unusual circumstances. He was attempting to play football for the Wolfpack while pursuing a pro baseball career.
Wilson was playing in the Colorado Rockies organization for the Asheville Tourists during spring practice when Mike Glennon, who had been Wilson’s backup, won the starting job.
At the conclusion of spring practice, N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien was comparing Glennon to the NFL quarterbacks O’Brien had coached at Boston College, including Atlanta Falcons standout Matt Ryan.
After the Wolfpack announced in April that it was releasing Wilson from his scholarship, Wilson said he was disappointed that O’Brien wouldn’t give him an opportunity to compete for a starting job.
Although he considered transferring to defending national champion Auburn, Wilson chose to join a Wisconsin team that already was expected to contend with Big Ten newcomer Nebraska for the conference title.
He was eligible to play for the Badgers immediately under the graduate student transfer rule. During training camp, Wilson said he was grateful for his opportunities at both schools.
“I’m truly blessed to be in the situation I’m in,” he said in August. “I was blessed to be at N.C. State and I’m blessed to be here. I’m cherishing every moment.”

Ken Tysiac


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