O'Brien Expects Wilson Back

It was a surprise to many when NC State junior Russell Wilson was selected on Tuesday in the fourth round of the 2010 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft by the Colorado Rockies.

It was a surprise to many when NC State junior Russell Wilson was selected on Tuesday in the fourth round of the 2010 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft by the Colorado Rockies.

"It's truly a blessing for me," Wilson stated hours after being picked. "I've been working hard my whole life to be in this situation now, and I'm looking forward to getting out there for the Rockies."

Focusing on just baseball after his football season concluded, Wilson had an underwhelming season on the diamond. A platoon outfielder, he mainly batted against left-handed pitching and finished the year hitting .306 with three home runs, two triples, five doubles, and 12 RBIs.

His selection gives Wilson some intriguing options. He could sign a contract and pursue his professional dreams in baseball, but Wolfpack fans are likely hoping that won't end his career on the gridiron... where Wilson is a standout.

Through two seasons as NC State's starter at quarterback Wilson has been named ACC Rookie of the Year and a first-team All-ACC selection. He's accounted for an astounding 56 touchdowns and just 12 turnovers, and last year's 35 touchdowns were three short of the ACC record Wolfpack legend Philip Rivers set as a senior.

Wilson's 56 touchdowns ranks third in school history, behind only Jamie Barnette's (1996-99) total of 74 in his four years and the 112 that Rivers tallied during his career.

There are some potential school and conference records in reach for Wilson, and he indicated that his current intentions are to return to Raleigh in the fall.

"I'm looking forward to getting out there for the Rockies, but I also plan on coming back this fall and playing football for NC State," said Wilson. "I want to come back and win an ACC championship with the football team. I want to throw a lot of touchdowns so I'm excited about it and I can't wait."

Obviously NC State head football coach Tom O'Brien was eager to speak with Wilson after receiving the news that his star player was a high draft pick in another sport.

"Coach O'Brien is really excited for me," said Wilson. "He understands that I've been playing baseball my whole life, and I've also been playing football my whole life. He knows that I love football and I love NC State. It's a great place for me.

"He's a great guy and I really appreciate him and everything he's done for me at NC State. He's really excited for me and the opportunity."

"Russell is a little bit exceptional in everything he does so it's worthwhile," said O'Brien. "I don't know where his future is. I think he may think his future is in baseball and if that's what it is than I have to respect those things, but we're still working towards our goal of winning a championship here."

O'Brien indicated that he spoke with Wilson following the pick and Wilson stated that he would be playing for the Pack in 2010.

"The last time we talked he just wanted to play football," said O'Brien. "I don't think there's any question in his mind, but in multiple conversations in the last couple of hours with me and coach Bible, that he wants to play football.

"The first thing he said to me was, 'Coach, I want to go work out. Give me the program and I'm going to do the same thing I did last summer so I'm ready to go once football starts.' So that's his mindset and I'll take him at that."

Signing pro baseball contracts and continuing to play another college sport is the route multiple dual-sport athletes have taken over the years. Washington quarterback Jake Locker signed a baseball contract last summer with the Los Angeles Angels after he was picked in the 10th round of the MLB Draft. He went on to start at quarterback for the Huskies in 2009 and looks to be one of the top returning QBs in the country this year.

Former Duke basketball star Trajan Langdon was also a talented baseball player who was selected in the sixth round of the 1994 MLB Draft. He spent three of his four college summers playing in the Class A Northwest League while lacing them up for the Blue Devils in the offseason.

Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams played four years of professional baseball while churning out yards as the star tailback for Texas in the late 1990s. Eventually he gave up baseball to play in the NFL, but Williams actually signed a contract with the Phillies after they selected him out of high school.

Should Russell Wilson sign with Colorado he would have to forfeit his scholarship, but the Rockies could pay his tuition or Wilson could pay his tuition himself. All of those issues would have to be ironed out, assuming he sticks to his plan of returning.

"We're going to sit down and talk," said O'Brien. "There's a lot of things that certainly we have to discuss from a NCAA standpoint. He has no agent, he's signed no contract, he's taken no money. Some of those issues have to be resolved."

The deadline to sign with a pro baseball team is August 16th, but Wilson will likely need to be back in Raleigh by August 3rd to claim his starting job because that is when the Wolfpack begins fall practice.

"I think it would be best for him and best for us that he's there when camp starts for a lot of reasons," said O'Brien. "Not just for him but also for this football team."

Although he might lack ideal height for the quarterback position, that doesn't mean Wilson can't succeed on the professional level in football. He will likely take that into consideration when he makes his final decision.

Wilson has always stated that he would love to play both pro football and pro baseball, and that has been done in the past by stars such as Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders, and Brian Jordan among others. With his drive to be successful, it's hard to doubt a kid like Wilson.

"The thing that I think that's driven him is you're only as good as you're last game," said O'Brien. "He was pretty spectacular in his last game last fall. He was 20-of-27 with no interceptions for 259 yards and four touchdowns against a defense that is loaded with NFL prospects.

"He's a pretty good quarterback prospect too. It will be interesting, but we'll get together and try and iron some of these things out and figure it all out."

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