Last week I brought you a small tidbit of rumors that Russell Wilson, the 3 year starter at NC State may be interested in coming to Wisconsin. Well those rumors just won't die and I think it's a great time to address this issue more in depth and give you my straight up opinion on the situation.
Mr. Wilson is available to us thanks to the fact that he is playing minor league baseball for the Colorado Rockies and NC State happens to have a really highly regarded QB coming in. So they granted him his release and because he already graduated he can play immediately for whatever team he goes to this fall. Before giving you the run down on why this is or isn't a good idea for Bucky I'm guessing that most of you have never heard of Russell Wilson since ACC football isn't exactly a hot topic in Big Ten Country. Russell was a 3 year starter at NC State amassing some amazing stats with the Wolfpack. His 3 year totals include throwing for over 8,500 yards, 76 passing TD's, and hitting on 58% of his passes. He also added over 1,000 yards rushing and 17TD's on the ground.
I don't care who you are or what your competition level was those numbers are very impressive. As you'll see in the video below this guy is a highlight reel QB who can change games. O.k., so with that said why in the world are we talking about him coming to Wisconsin? Well, frankly the QB stable the Badgers have are very young with only Jon Budmayr having any college game experience and frankly that wasn't all that impressive. So here we sit in May and the rumors started around ESPN last week with little buzz in Wisconsin. This wee however those rumors have finally been substantiated here in Wisconsin thanks to the confirmation of contact from Russell Wilson to Wisconsin. All indications I have are that the conversation was to gauge the level of interest on both sides and see if it could be a fit and nothing more at this point, but it's a start right?
This potential move has a huge upside and an equally dangerous downside to it for Wisconsin football. I suppose I'll give you the downside first. Yes, Wilson is a very talented player and all, but he would just be a one year rental. When's the last time you saw Wisconsin go after the "stop gap" type player just to fill a "need"(I use that term lightly)? I also worry about what kind of a message that would send to a very young but talented crop of QB's that the Badgers spent all Spring developing. Bringing in Wilson at the last moment could be akin to pulling the rug out from underneath the group and could lead to a massive dip in confidence. We are talking about 18-20 year olds here and dealing with adversity isn't something most of them have had to experience on a massive level like this. Equally worrisome to me is the fact that he wouldn't be available until August at the earliest, putting him behind in learning the playbook and developing a relationship with a very young WR core. Additionally you have to wonder about anyone that a school was willing to just give up on like NC State did. It's not as if he was some shlub 4th string QB, we're talking about an all-ACC caliber QB and those aren't easy to come by. Could it be that he was a bit of distraction in the locker room or they simply were ready to move on to someone totally committed to football?
On the positive side is that Wilson is at a level far and away superior to what is currently on the Badgers roster. He clearly has what it takes to play the position and any transition that he may need to make in terminology/playbook could be made up for by his sheer talent to start the year. He is a game changer with his arm and his feet, something that no QB on the roster has proven to be at this point. Not only that but no other QB in the ACC threw for more TD's in the past 3 seasons than Wilson, not even recent 1st round NFL pick Christian Ponder (why the Vikings even Pondered Ponder is beyond me... Thanks 107.5 The Fan for that horribly funny pun) If he is committed to the Badgers program and can fit in the locker room this guy could be the difference between a 2nd place division finish and a Big Ten Championship with all the talent that is already around him on the offensive side of the ball.
In the end the more and more I think about this issue I tend to see the positives outweigh the negatives and here's why: You bet it's a risk and it's only for one year, but you have to ask yourself can this guy help this team and the answer is a resounding YES! The Big Ten landscape is changing with the new 12 team, 2 division format and if we have visions of being one of the teams that can assert some control in this new era this move would help that. Wisconsin could put ourselves in the mix to be favorites to win the Big Ten if we were to get Wilson and keep ourselves in the national spotlight for more than just a season, something this program has failed to do(think of the Allan Evridge debacle). I have to think he's salivating at the thought of playing behind the Badgers offensive line as well, one that can give him the time needed to use his arm and feet. The other thing no one has really mentioned in this whole scenario is do the Badgers see incoming QB Bart Houston as someone that can come in and start right away as a Freshman? If so then there is zero harm in bringing Wilson on board because any "psyche" damage that may be done to Budmayr,Breenan, or Stave would be temporary at best.
With all that being said this may end up being all speculation and he could end up not being a fit for the Badgers, but from time to time it's nice to think of what could be. We also have to consider the SEC a equally possible landing spot for Wilson, so let's not get our hopes up to high. If this ends up in the Badgers favor 2011 is going to be a much different year than anyone pictured coming out of Spring Football. Look for me to keep you updated on any and all information as it becomes available, but until then.... ON WISCONSIN!!!