Russell Wilson: The Next Doug Flutie?

North Carolina State Wolfpack Head Coach, Tom O'Brien, officially announced his starting quarterback, redshirt freshman Russell Wilson. Who is Russell Wilson? contributor and South Carolina football analyst Edwin Turnage takes a look at the talented redshirt freshman. Could he favorably compare to one of the most storied quarterbacks in history?

Chris Preston, a writer for the prestigious ESPN Insider recently compared Wilson to current and former professional football players, Marques Hagans, a fantastically skilled running quarterback, and the amazing Boston College great, Doug Flutie, a Heisman Trophy winner and leader of the first magnitude. Those two guys are or were great players. The Gamecocks will certainly have a challenge if the ESPN writers are even marginally accurate about Wilson.

Wilson beat out four other quarterbacks who had been competing for the Wolfpack's starting QB position.

Wilson went to High School at Collegiate High in Richmond, Virginia, where he was a star. Collegiate School is a preparatory school. In 2006, Wilson led Collegiate to a 10-1 record and the VISAA (Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association) State Championship.

At Collegiate, Wilson was a dual threat QB. He is as fast as a lightning bolt. As a High School Senior, he was clocked in the forty at 4.53 seconds. On the ground, he averaged 7.4 yards per carry (in 143 attempts) and ran for 18 touchdowns. Through the air, Wilson completed 59.7% of 350 pass attempts for 3,009 yards, 34 touchdowns. He threw just 7 interceptions. He was named all-state, all-conference, and conference player of the year.

Wilson is also a great baseball player. He started at second base for the Wolfpack. His baseball skills were so impressive that in 2006, he was projected as a high baseball draft choice, possibly a fourth round pick. Fortunately for the Wolfpack, Wilson opted for a college education.

Wilson totally impresses everyone who watches him play football. called Wilson "one of the best athletes in the state of Virginia." Likewise, Tim Glanton, a traveling coach, saw Wilson at the Louisville combine and stated, "That kid from Virginia can play the game. All, I can say is, 'Wow!'"

Wilson made his move toward becoming the Wolfpack's QB starter in the spring scrimmages. He impressed Wolfpack coaches by completing 34 of 60 passes in three 2008 spring scrimmages for 410 yards. He also threw three touchdown passes and made several beautiful runs.

A video of Wilson's Spring Game performance is embedded below. When you view the movie, watch Wilson's quick pass release. Also, notice how his head is on a swivel, looking from receiver to receiver for an open man. Most definnitely, watch the last play at the end of this video. Wilson explodes up the middle of the defense on a quarterback sneak for a 25-yard touchdown run.

One would think that Wilson's baseball playing for the Wolfpack would have set him back in the competition for the starting quarterback gig. However, that was not the case at all. Wilson actually quit playing baseball in the middle of the season so he could fully participate in the spring football practices. (Wilson is not on a baseball scholarship.)

Wilson refused to let the grueling two-sport schedule grind him down. He maintained a 3.6 grade-point average in school. Asked by the North Carolina State media about how in the world he could he keep up that pace, Wilson cited his Faith. "I try to stay strong through Him. My faith keeps me strong in everything I take on, school-wise, family-wise, sports-wise."

There is no question that the Wolfpack has found itself a driven, athletic, young man to start the game at quarterback against the Gamecocks. But what about that crazy ESPN writer's comparison of Wilson to Doug Flutie? Is that for real?

Flutie played college football at Boston College and is remembered by many as a QB who engineered several miraculous upsets of favored opponents, including an amazing November 24, 1984 upset against heavily favored Miami. Flutie's Hail Mary pass at the end of that game is considered by some to be among the greatest moments in college football.

Was the comparison of Wilson to the Heisman Trophy winner, Flutie, a fair one? It would seem the only similarities are the leadership qualities and diminutive sizes of the two players. Flutie was a short QB, only 5'9" tall. Wilson is taller than Flutie, but only by a couple inches. He is 5'11".

Most major college and professional quarterbacks nowadays are well over six feet tall. One of the primary reasons for recruiting and playing taller quarterbacks is so the player can see receivers and throw passes over the heads and hands of big onrushing defensive lineman.

The short stature of Wilson could be a physical drawback when he plays the Gamecocks, who are big. For example, the Gamecocks defensive ends are Clifton Geathers -- 6'7"; Cliff Matthews and Travian Robertson -- 6'4"; and Jordin Lindsey -- 6'3". The interior linemen are nearly as tall, Marquis Hall at 6'3", Jonathan Williams at 6'2"; and Ladi Ajiboye and Nathan Pepper at 6'1".

I would expect the Gamecocks defensive coaches might try and create a penetrating, bull-rush type encroachment into the Wolfpack backfield designed to obstruct a shorter quarterback's vision downfield. Also, watch and see if the Gamecock defensive linemen and blitzers don't have their hands up trying for deflections and batted down passes.

Besides his short stature, Flutie's other noteworthy quality as a quarterback was great leadership skills. That is an intangible quality that really cannot be measured until Wilson plays in some big games this year. If Russell Wilson really is the Flutie-like player ESPN's writers are claiming, then on August 28 the Gamecock defenders need to be ready to meet a heavy challenge.

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