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Russell Wilson’s remarkable rise comes after baseball struggles

Russell Wilson AP

The way Russell Wilson has taken the Seahawks quarterback job and made it his own in a few short months, it’s hard to imagine the rookie failing at much.

But it wasn’t that long ago he washed out in the low rungs of minor league baseball.

Wilson left N.C. State in part because of his desire to play baseball and football, but walked away from the Class A Asheville Tourists last June to finish his senior season of football at Wisconsin.

At that point, he was hitting .229, striking out in more than a third of his at-bats. Bo Jackson he was not.

“He was a football player trying to play baseball,” said Marc Gustafson, the Rockies’ senior director of player development, via Larry Stone of the Seattle Times. “He was very talented, but he needed a lot of work.”

The Rockies, who drafted him in the fourth round, raved about his work ethic and leadership, the same kind of things the Seahawks have fallen in love with.

But the difference is in his skill for football, which was never evident on the diamond.

“Our people looked at Russell as a prospect, but we weren’t going to know until 1,500 at-bats,” said Bill Schmidt, Colorado’s vice president of scouting. “It would probably be three years. I told Russell that. There were no guarantees, but he had a tremendous work ethic. He always told me his objective was to play in the NFL and major leagues.”

After stepping away early, Wilson repaid part of his $250,000 signing bonus to the Rockies. And while he dreamed of being a two-sport star, he figured out his ceiling was much higher on the football field.

“I was good, but I still had a long way to go,” Wilson said of his attempt. “Obviously, when you play professional baseball, you have to go through the minor-league levels to get there. It takes time. At the same time, I knew I had this other thing waiting here for me: football.

“I knew I played at a high level in college, and I knew I had one more year left. I had to figure out: Should I do this or not? Just go figure it out. If I didn’t do that, I would have regretted it for the rest of my life, just because I would have never known what I could have done in the NFL.”

The Seahawks are glad he did, and banking on the fact he’s not going to keep striking out.

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24 Responses to “Russell Wilson’s remarkable rise comes after baseball struggles”
  1. ottomanismydog says: Sep 7, 2012 8:44 AM

    Last year I watch Wisconsin QB depth chart which obviously featured Russell Wilson. Kid is a beast, no surprise he did well in camp. Good luck kid..

  2. steveohho says: Sep 7, 2012 8:47 AM

    The fact is pro baseball is much harder to play successfully than pro football.

  3. mataug says: Sep 7, 2012 8:55 AM

    I would like to see him succeed but let him play a few games because you guys in the media will the first one to try and bring him down(from the pedestal on which you have mounted him on).

  4. h3min1230 says: Sep 7, 2012 8:55 AM

    Not to be a hater, but I just don’t think he can keep this up. I give it until week 4 before he becomes just another QB and talk of a QB controversy arises.

  5. greyhawk9 says: Sep 7, 2012 9:32 AM

    when russell wilson jumps int the ocean he doesnt get wet……the ocean gets russell wilson’d

  6. someidiotfromouthereintheprojects says: Sep 7, 2012 9:55 AM

    the argument can be made that because he’s always been a 2 sport athlete, this is the first time in his life where he is only focusing on one, and can actually improve and raise his level of play. at nc state that’s why his football coaches got frustrated with him – he refused to focus all his energy on football. so with baseball out of the picture this kid has a pretty high ceiling.

  7. jimmysee says: Sep 7, 2012 10:01 AM

    Russell Wilson stepped in at Wisconsin and immediately assumed a position of unquestioned leadership in the locker room.

    What is going on in Seattle is no surprise.

    The kid has “it.”

    In 10 years, he’ll be recognized as the best QB taken in the 1011 draft.

  8. steelersownyou says: Sep 7, 2012 10:04 AM

    Flynn will be in there in no time. Everyone looks great against 2nd and 3rd string defenses. This guy is a bust. By 3rd week flynn will be in. bad decision going with this kid. He ain’t got it!

  9. qdog112 says: Sep 7, 2012 10:24 AM

    Wilson carries the NC State football program for 3 years and was summarily discarded, under the pretext that he wouldn’t give up baseball to become a football only – guy.

    The whole thing was garbage. No coach in the nation, worth his salt, would make such a demand on the greatest QB in school history. (yeah, better than Rivers) All Wilson asked for was the opportunity to compete for the job after his summer of baseball. Coach O’Brien said NO. Think about it: if Glennon couldn’t win the job after Wilson never took part in any spring drills, then is he really your guy? You might as well start Wilson, if Glennon can’t win the job from a guy who didn’t even practice.

    Grave mistake. What people are seeing on a national scale now, I saw for 5 years at State and Wisconsin. This guy is THE COMMANDER and it’s not smart to bet against him.

  10. kylexitron says: Sep 7, 2012 10:26 AM

    Unless you’re a fan of a seahawk’s rival, can’t see why you wouldn’t pull for this kid. He’s pretty much everything you’d want in a QB as far as his work ethic, commitment, and character. And he’s more than proven he can throw the ball and keep cool under pressure. I’m tired of all the “If only he was 2 inches taller” crap.

  11. realitypolice says: Sep 7, 2012 10:37 AM

    The most famous member of the Asheville Tourists since Crash Davis signed there after being released by the Durham Bulls after Nook LaLoosh got sent to the majors.

    Davis set the all time Minor League home record in Asheville and then hung em’ up. He went on to manage the Visalia Rawhide in the California League.

    You can look it up.

  12. mojosmagic says: Sep 7, 2012 11:00 AM

    This kid will be better then RG3 and he was a third round pick.

  13. purpleguy says: Sep 7, 2012 11:14 AM

    I’m not so sure I’d annoint the guy king until he’s played a few real games.

  14. riverace19 says: Sep 7, 2012 11:18 AM

    Watched him every game last year and he was very polished. But come on now he started out preseason vs 2nd and 3rd defenses; played one half as a starter. I think he will do well but he is getting blown up so big he is destined to disappoint. Let’s watch him play half a season before crowning him.

  15. CKL says: Sep 7, 2012 11:25 AM

    I’ve been impressed with this kid and only moreso after reading here that he gave back part of his bonus. That shows a lot of integrity by him if it wasn’t a required thing.

  16. stayclassyasheville says: Sep 7, 2012 12:03 PM

    As a Badger fan in Asheville I can say this dude is awesome!! I am a huge fan of Russell Wilson! I saw Drew Brees play the badgers when he was at Purdue & Wilson reminds me of him without the cannon arm. Wilson will have a “Cam-like” rookie season!

  17. granadafan says: Sep 7, 2012 12:35 PM

    I have to laugh at all the NC St and Wiconsin homers who have blinders on when gushing about former players 2nd only to the deplorable Gator fans and religious fanatics going on and on about Tebow.

    That said, I’m pulling for Russell Wilson to succeed even though the Seapigeons are rivals to my Niners. I’m tired of the scouts and so-called draft experts downgrading players just because they don’t meet the “protypical” size for a position. There are too many big QBs like JaWalrus, Leaf, Weinke, or Tim Couch who can’t play, yet leaders and players like Wilson are barely looked at. It’s time to throw out the stereotypes and scout players for who they are and not because they’re “too short”.

  18. peytonsneck18 says: Sep 7, 2012 2:48 PM

    Never underestimate the heart of a player, Luck and Wilson will be the QB cream of the crop in this years draft, Willie “rg3″ beamin is too worried about commercials and exposure than to put in the work to become great

  19. rdixon50 says: Sep 7, 2012 2:49 PM

    Let’s see how he survives Darnell Dockett on Sunday.

  20. ripcurl2121 says: Sep 7, 2012 3:23 PM

    “I’ve been impressed with this kid and only moreso after reading here that he gave back part of his bonus. That shows a lot of integrity by him if it wasn’t a required thing.”

    mabey he had to give it back for quitting early. ever think about that?

  21. bluebongzilla says: Sep 7, 2012 6:36 PM

    You guys realize he’s like 5’11” in cleats, right?

  22. dans761 says: Sep 7, 2012 7:56 PM

    He’s only 5’11 in cleats? Noooooo!

    Love the haters especially the 40whiners fans. They still have Alex Smith, they were 1 hit wonders. Seahawks have owned the NFC West and they’ll reclaim it in 2012 and then some. This team isn’t just average theyre gonna be talked about among the elite teams in the next 2-3 years. 40whiners will still have Alex “the bust” Smith trying to throw to Randy “the quitter” Moss. I see the Rams as the biggest Seahawks threat, Cards are the Cards and the 40whiners are the 40whiners with 1 winning season in a decade.

  23. seahawksnation4life says: Sep 7, 2012 8:05 PM

    @steelersownyou

    “Flynn will be in there in no time. Everyone looks great against 2nd and 3rd string defenses. This guy is a bust. By 3rd week flynn will be in. bad decision going with this kid. He ain’t got it!”

    You will be eating your words, I guarantee it. By 3rd week, Flynn WON’T be in, Wilson WILL be playing well, and YOU will feel even less intelligent than you are now.

  24. liddogg33 says: Sep 8, 2012 9:42 AM

    Amen!!!!! Russell is gonna be the guy in seattle for a long time!!! Whatever “IT” is you would be a FOOL not to see it!!! Best news of all with the young, fast, and hungry seahawks team its gonna be DOMINATION!!!!

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