"I think North Carolina State is getting a real leader in Russell," said coach McFall. "That's the one thing that has always impressed me about Russell. He's always been a leader. He's the kind of kid that other players rally around and want to play with.
"Even as a junior he was elected as a captain for us, along with four seniors. Obviously he's got the skills, but he's just a great kid. If I had to start a program, that's what I'd like to start with, a leader at quarterbcak and that's his strength."
A prolific passer on the prep level, Wilson led Collegiate to the Virginia AAA state title while posting an 11-0 record that included two wins over prep power Fork Union Military Academy. Wilson passed for 3,300 yards and 40 touchdowns while rushing for another 634 yards as 15 scores as he earned all-state, all-region, and all-district honors while being named the 2005 Richmond Times-Dispatch Player of the Year.
His coach believes that he has all the talent to succeed at the next level and even impact right away at NC State.
"He certainly has the skills," coach McFall said. "He's an unbelievable athlete. Once you shake his hands you understand. He's got really, really big hands, and he can really throw the ball with that right arm of his.
"Other than arm strength and quickness, one thing he is natural at is learning the speed of his receivers and using it to his advantage. He can lead his receivers better than anybody I've ever seen on this level. He hardly makes a bad throw... he has an uncanny knack for leading receivers. I know he really impressed some of the other schools at various camps with his accuracy and arm strength."
|"He hardly makes a bad throw... he has an uncanny knack for leading receivers."|
"I really do think he can play early," coach McFall added. "He's got an unbelievable amount of confidence in himself. It's not a bragging type... he's the kind of kid that is going to go on the field with 60,000 or 70,000 people watching and not be intimidated at all. He thrives with that type of pressure. I would think, coming in as a freshman, NC State would defenitely give him a look."
Wilson doesn't have the frame of the prototypical college quarterback prospect, as he stands just 5'11.5. However, he weighs a rock-solid 190 pounds and makes up for his lack of height with terrific footwork, great athleticism, and the ability to throw on the run.
"He sees the field well, and he's got the footspeed and quickness," said coach McFall. "I've seen a lot of quarterbacks play in the college ranks who are in that 5'11-to-6'0 range, and they just had the tools to play the game. I know early on a lot of schools were talking about his height. When the Ohio State coaches came down here, they said they've had some quarterbacks not as tall as Russell, but he has proven what he can do with the football in his hands.
Russell is one of those guys who can play under center, and he can play in the shotgun and run a spread offense. In my opinion, he's a legitimate quarterback prospect, regardless of how tall he is. I think I would worry less about height and worry more about leadership and character."
"When teams first started looking at him, I think they believed he was an athlete playing quarterback, but after watching him at the camps this spring, they now see that he's a quarterback that is also a great athlete. If he's not a quarterback I certainly would want to coach one who is."
Wilson garnered a lot of interest after his strong junior season as he was also to the 2005 Orlando Sentinel All-Southern Team, the only underclassman from Virginia honored by the publication. He picked up offers from NC State and Duke after camps this spring, and coach McFall mentioned that North Carolina seriously considered extending an offer.
Virginia and Virginia Tech were pretty honest," said coach McFall. "They said they got their #1 guys and both of their #1 guys asked if they were recruiting any other quarterbacks and they said no.
"[North] Carolina was really impressed with him. They were in a dilemma. They really couldn't afford to bring in another quarterback and possibly lose one or get none. [Mike] Paulus was their man. The message they could have given to Paulus if they brought in another good quarterback was that maybe he wasn't their man. I was not surprised they had not offered yet, but I know they had a lot of meetings... they did a lot of soul searching. I know for a fact that they were really impressed with Russell's performance at their camp because he can make all of the throws you want a quarterback to make."
|"If he's not a quarterback I certainly would want to coach one who is."|
NC State offered after Wilson camped in June, as his stellar performance led to the Wolfpack quickly turning up the heat. He visited with his parents on July 18th, and committed to head coach Chuck Amato a few days later.
"He really did enjoy his visit to NC State," said coach McFall. "I knew the offers were going to come because I just know what kind of kid he is, and the type of kids some of these schools need to recruit. You're only as good as your quarterback, and the leadership of your quarterbak makes your team even better.
"NC State has a great tradition, and the ACC is tough and strong... it is a great conference, especially with the recent additions of Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College. I know that really played into his decision.
"NC State is located in a great area, and I know he liked it down there. Russell called me early Sunday morning, and he said that in his heart he knew what he wanted to do. I told him if he's happy and his family is happy then that is what is important, and I fully supported his decision."
Another factor in Wilson's decision was that NC State would allow him to keep playing baseball. The starting shortstop for Collegiate, Wilson batted .467 with three home runs and is considered a potential pro baseball prospect. He plans to play both sports on the next level, but his scholarship will be for football.
"I really think he understands that he needs to go to college," said coach McFall. "Whether or not he gets drafted, that I don't know. I think his family and friends really want him to go to college, and I think he knows that.
"I think that in his mind, football is going to be No. 1. I think he's going to go to NC State as a football player first and having the opportunity to play baseball is an added bonus. If you're going there to play quarterback that better be your first priority. If you're competing to be the man, that better be your first priority, and he understands that."