Wilson: 'I'm a Competitor'

RALEIGH, N.C. -- With NC State's baseball team in the process of defeating No. 24 East Carolina 4-3 in Greenville, freshman Russell Wilson was concluding another spring football practice.

Following the Tuesday afternoon workout, Wilson and tailback Andre Brown were the last two players on the Wolfpack's practice field. The balancing of baseball and football hasn't been too big of a problem for Wilson.

"It's been fine," he stated. "I have my day planned out to where I'm capable of completing all the tasks I have to do.

"I try to focus on the now, what is currently going on, and then moving to the next step. Whether that is class, my school work, football practice, or a baseball game... the key for me is to focus on the now."

Trying to play two sports at the same time can't be easy, but Wilson is making the most of it. On the baseball diamond, he has started eight games for NC State, batting .294 with three stolen bases, a double, and a home run.

With that being said, the priority for Wilson is football, as he is in a battle to win the Wolfpack's starting quarterback position.

"I'm just trying to work hard and improve out here everyday."

"I'm just trying to work hard and improve out here everyday," said Wilson. "I'm not really worried about the starting job right now. Obviously, I want it because I'm a competitor, but the other guys are too.

"I'm just trying to improve as a player and help the team get better. That is what the spring is really about... improving. That is what coach O'Brien stresses."

Wilson began the spring as the third-team quarterback behind Harrison Beck and Justin Burke. Returning starter Daniel Evans is sidelined with a shoulder injury, and the position appears to be up for grabs. While he is hesitant to discuss how well he is doing, Wilson feels he is giving the effort needed to win the job.

"I think I'm doing better everyday," he said. "I'm not sure if I am [making a move for the starting job] or not, hopefully I am. Personally I feel like I am working hard enough to make a move. I'm improving everyday, and I am trying to learn from the little mistakes. I'm going to keep watching film to see how I can get better."

A prep standout at Richmond (VA) Collegiate School, the 5-foot-11, 191-pounder passed for nearly 7,500 yards and 74 touchdowns in his two years as the starting quarterback. The dual-threat athlete also rushed for another 1,800 yards and 33 scores.

In high school, Wilson worked exclusively out of the shotgun in a spread offense. NC State offensive coordinator Dana Bible utilizes a pro-style offense with the majority of the snaps coming from under center. Has he struggled making the transition?

"It's a little tougher just because you're rotating with the first, second, and third-string centers," he said. "So you just have to get used to the one you're working with at that time, but that is just practice. It's all about repetitions. During the game, it isn't bad at all.

"Coach Bible really helps us understand the game. We know exactly what to look for from the defenses, and he does a great job with that. If I continue to listen to him, the game will be 100% easier. That's just the main thing I have to do. I have to keep listening to what coach Bible has to say and keep trying to do the best that I can."

Because he redshirted in 2007, Wilson was able to work each week as the scout team's quarterback. He would direct the scout team offense against the first team defense, running the different plays and formations of the upcoming opponent.

Although he wasn't specifically working on the Wolfpack's offense, Wilson still believes he was able to learn while helping prepare the defense.

"I think the ACC is similar," he said. "By that, I mean a lot of the teams run the same types of plays and formations, so I learned a lot from that last year... what to look for reading the safeties and stuff like that.

"I also had coach [Paul] Peterson. He used to coach here but he is now at another university. He started at quarterback for Boston College under coach O'Brien and coach Bible. He would always talk to me about how a certain play is similar to one of our own, and what type of reads I need to look for. I really focused on that and tried to improve as much as I could, even if I wasn't doing specifically what we try to do on offense."

"I have to keep listening to what coach Bible has to say."

Whoever the Wolfpack's starting quarterback will be, he will have a wealth of weapons around him. Returning is former All-ACC tight end Anthony Hill along with seasoned tailbacks Jamelle Eugene, Andre Brown, and Toney Baker. Add to that the fact that wide receiver might be NC State's deepest position, and the skill positions are set.

"We're pretty stacked at every position, and we're working hard," said Wilson. "We're all trying to get better. We're all trying to keep improving in the weight room, in the film room, and in the classroom, and obviously out here on the field.

"I really feel like we're getting better. The tempo is picking up everyday, and so is the intensity. The speed of the game is going faster, but it is also slowing down at the same time, if that makes any sense."

Wilson's maturity and work ethic has caught the attention of his teammates. Senior Andre Brown says you can't help but notice what he is doing and that has earned him a lot of respect.

"He is a strong character guy," said Brown. "When you look at him, for him to balance baseball and football the way that he is doing, that takes a lot of mental focus and strength.

"I know if I was him I'd be tired, but he comes out here and battles everyday. There is a lot of respect for him. He's learning quickly, and he gets in here early before morning workouts and watches film. Stuff like that goes a long way. I notice it... we notice it. I think he's capable of doing it."


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