Medlin: Wilson Gets It

Any fan of NC State or any follower of ACC football knows, by now, that Russell Wilson is a heck of a football player.

Any fan of NC State or any follower of ACC football knows by now that Russell Wilson is a heck of a football player.

All those people are aware the redshirt sophomore hasn't thrown an interception in 364 pass attempts and they also know he's a dynamic force that opposing defenses must be aware of at all times.

But as much as people have started to recognize Wilson as the phenomenal player he is, I still wonder if people truly understand what kind of player we're talking about.

Not since Philip Rivers has NC State had a player it can truly rely on to make game-changing plays which are the difference between winning and losing. Wilson does that without question. Before everyone starts calling me an idiot for comparing Rivers and Wilson, let me be clear that I'm not trying to compare the two in a statistical sense.

Wilson might never put up the types of gaudy passing numbers Rivers did, but he also normally doesn't throw the ball 40 times a game, which Rivers enjoyed doing for four years. The comparison I'm talking about is based on impact and how valuable Wilson has been to the Wolfpack since the beginning of last season.

And in that sense, Wilson is the first quarterback since Rivers that even comes close to what Philip did for the program. Let's go over some numbers just to make sure the point is a little clearer.

Since the beginning of 2008, NC State has gained 5,903 yards of offense. Wilson has accounted for 3,433 of those, or 58 percent of the total yardage gained. And that's not even taking into consideration the fact that Wilson missed half of two games last season (South Carolina and Rutgers) and the entirety of two others (William & Mary and South Florida). Take those games away and the percentage goes up in a hurry.

In the 13 games which Wilson has started and finished, he has 3,182 total yards and 32 total touchdowns. That's 244 yards and 2.5 touchdowns per game for those keeping track. Oh yeah, he also has thrown just one interception and recorded a single fumble.

So basically in one full season of starts, Wilson has led the Wolfpack to an 8-5 record and has helped the offense average 30 points per game. Pretty impressive for an undersized, underclassman dual-threat quarterback who MOST thought was too small to play big-time college football.

And don't even get me going on the streak of passes without an interception. While that stat is a bit misleading and very much based on luck, it's still impressive. Philip Rivers threw 10 interceptions during his first full season as a starter.

What might be scarier, at least for opposing teams, is that Wilson can get better. His completion percentage numbers and rating have done nothing but go up during his career, climbing from 54 percent in 2008 to nearly 65 percent so far this season. And if he keeps up his current pace he'll finish 2009 with nearly 3,000 yards passing and 36 touchdowns... and no interceptions. He told himself he wouldn't throw another one. Who am I not to believe him?

At Monday's press conference even Tom O'Brien talked about how the entire team, including Wilson, had a lot of improving to do in the weeks to come. One of the first things Wilson did in his press conference Tuesday was echo O'Brien's sentiments.

"We know we have a lot of improving to do," he said. "Like Coach O'Brien said right after the [Pittsburgh] game, we're not good yet. And I agree. We have a lot of things we have to correct and a lot of things we can get better at and things we can fix. It's not necessarily a negative thing, it's a positive thing."

I'll definitely look forward to seeing an improved Russell Wilson. That could get interesting.

And while all the numbers and stats jump off the page, the most impressive thing about Wilson may be the fact that he just doesn't seem to care about them. Wilson's modesty and willingness to talk about the rest of his offensive teammates before he ever talks about himself stands out just as much as his performances on the field.

I've sat through a handful of Wilson's Tuesday morning press conferences during the year and every single time he has had the chance to talk about himself he talks about the other players around him. He knows it takes 11 players on every single play to have success.

"I try to stay even keel the whole game and try to focus on my team and focus on what we have at task. Not focus on before or don't worry about what's going to happen, just focus on the now and get better each and every play," he said. "If we do that we'll be successful."

Listening to Wilson say that made me realize that his best quality isn't his strong arm or his innate ability to make the right play at the right time – what makes Russell Wilson a successful player is his perspective.

He gets it. And that's the most refreshing part.


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