Russell Wilson to play football

Updated: January 12, 2012, 5:53 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Former Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson has notified the Colorado Rockies he is pursuing football and will not report to spring training.

Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said Thursday the team was informed Wilson won't be coming to camp. He said the Rockies had "no say in his personal choice," but the club wishes him the best as he pursues pro football.

Wilson will train with former NFL quarterback Chris Weinke, a source told ESPN's Joe Schad.

Wilson had a solid senior season at Wisconsin -- his only one with the Badgers -- finishing with 3,175 yards, 33 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Wilson had transferred to Wisconsin after three seasons at North Carolina State.

Wilson left the Wolfpack after coach Tom O'Brien wanted the three-year starter to be more committed to the program and participate in spring drills, rather than play minor league baseball for the Rockies.

The 5-foot-11, 210-pound Wilson already had graduated from NC State, so he was eligible to play right away in 2011 without sitting out under normal transfer rules after picking Wisconsin over Auburn.

As a junior, Wilson passed for 3,663 yards and 28 touchdowns while leading the Wolfpack to a victory over West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl. In his three seasons at North Carolina State, Wilson threw for 8,545 yards and 76 touchdowns with 26 interceptions.

The Rockies selected Wilson, a second baseman, with the 140th pick in the 2010 MLB draft. In 61 games with the Rockies' Class A Asheville Tourists in 2011, Wilson hit .228 with three home runs and 15 RBIs.

He received a $200,000 signing bonus and will have to give a portion of that back to the team.

Given more time and even more at bats, Rockies executive Bill Schmidt believed Wilson could have had a solid career on the diamond.

"We thought his future would be better in baseball, if he chose to pursue it," said Schmidt, who serves as the team's vice president of scouting. "But we always knew that football was there. We would've liked to have seen him stick with it a little longer and seen where it would've taken him. But I fully understand where he's coming from with football."

The Rockies retain the rights to Wilson for five more years. And Schmidt said the door remains open.

"If football doesn't work out and he calls us, he can come back and play baseball," Schmidt said. "He was a long ways away in baseball to really know what kind of player he had a chance to be. He had the tools. He had the athleticism. He had the tremendous work ethic. We thought that with time and effort, he had a chance.

"It was worth the gamble."

Information from ESPN's Joe Schad and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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