Friday, June 3, 2011
Wisconsin to make its pitch for Wilson
By Adam Rittenberg
The Russell Wilson derby appears to be down to two teams: Auburn and Wisconsin.
Wilson, the former NC State quarterback who visited Auburn on May 24, will make a trip to Wisconsin next week. A source tells colleague Heather Dinich that Wilson will be in town Tuesday and Wednesday.
Wilson has been playing minor league baseball for the Asheville Tourists, a Class A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, which ends a stretch of 14 games in 14 days on Wednesday. The Tourists play a day game Tuesday, after which Wilson could conceivably fly to Madison.
Russell Wilson passed for 3,563 yards, 28 touchdowns and 14 interceptions for NC State last season.
A source tells the Wisconsin State Journal's Tom Mulhern that Wilson hopes to make a decision on where to play by the end of the month. Although Wilson has been playing every day for the Tourists and the Rockies want him to play through the season, a source close to Wilson told colleague Joe Schad in May that Wilson is "95 percent" certain he'll play football this fall.
Here's what we know about Wilson:
started multiple seasons at NC State, racking up 8,545 pass yards and 76 touchdowns with 26 interceptions
runner-up for ACC Player of the Year honors in 2010 after passing for 3,563 yards with 28 touchdowns and 14 interceptions
operated in a pro-style offense
hitting a team-low .200 with 28 hits, a home run and 6 RBIs for the Tourists
As I've written before, Wilson would be an excellent pickup for Wisconsin, a team that might be a quarterback away from another Big Ten title. If Wilson is able to join the Badgers for preseason camp and compete for the starting job with Jon Budmayr, I'm all for it. The Badgers need more depth at quarterback, and a proven player like Wilson helps. His commitment to baseball could be an issue, but unless he starts to heat up on the diamond, I think he'll be headed back to the gridiron soon.
What will Wisconsin's pitch for the quarterback entail?
It's good Wilson will visit Madison in June as opposed to, say, February. The weather could be a factor for Wilson, who hails from Virginia. He has played in mostly favorable weather at NC State and is considering an SEC program. Madison is an incredible college town and should sell itself, but it's a lot more fun when the mercury is above freezing.
Wisconsin also needs to sell the opportunity to work with Paul Chryst, one of the nation's top offensive coordinators. Chryst has done wonders with quarterbacks who lack Wilson's natural ability and experience. And if Wilson wants to play in the NFL, Chryst's system has a lot more parallels to the pro game than Gus Malzahn's offense at Auburn.
It also wouldn't hurt for Wisconsin to introduce Wilson to a few offensive linemen, either. Or Montee Ball. Or James White.
Auburn is coming off of a national championship, but does it have the same type of supporting cast to surround its quarterback?
Credit Wisconsin for being proactive to this point with Wilson. It'll be interesting to see if Bret Bielema and his staff can close the deal.