Madison, Wisconsin (a.k.a, the home of the Wisconsin Badgers) has exploded with a hysteria known only as Russell-Mania because of the addition of highly-touted NC State transfer and dual-threat quarterback Russell Wilson.
Head Coach Bret Bielema even went as far to mention how he’s approached at the gas pump and asked whether the kid Wilson can play. There hasn’t been this much excitement around one single player since Ron Dayne took home the Heisman Trophy in 1999.
During the Badgers Media Day, I had a chance to catch up with Wilson and ask him about his first impressions of Madison and his feelings regarding Wisconsin’s playbook and the offense.
Right away, you could tell that Wilson is a smart kid who took a lot into account when deciding whether to transfer from NC State to Wisconsin or Auburn. When it came time to make a decision, Wilson said, “the atmosphere, tradition, coach Bielema and his philosophies,” were all big reasons he decided to spend his senior season at Wisconsin.
He went on to mention, “the main thing for me was the players though, the guys they already have with experience and leadership was something I wanted to be a part of.”
Wilson knows a little about leadership himself as he was a three-year starter for NC State where he won the 2008 ACC Rookie of the Year and passed for over 8,000 yards over three years. In that same time-span, Wilson also threw for 76 touchdowns and rushed for another 17.
He feels his time with the Wolfpack is one of his greatest assets.
“The experience is my main strength; when the game is on the line and it’s loud, I’ll be cool, calm and collected. Also being relaxed and having fun as well as working hard each and every day. I never let anyone out work me,” said Wilson.
Even though Wilson brings immense experience to the team, one concern is whether he can pick up the Badgers playbook and offense before the start of the season.
When asked how much of the playbook he could realistically learn before the first game, Wilson answered, “I think I can learn all of it, like I said I’m a quick learner. I didn’t graduate in three years for nothing.”
“It’s not too different than what I ran at NC State, they are both pro offenses. The formation or play is just called something completely different. I just need to learn something new everyday, whether it’s one thing, two things or a hundred things, if I can take it all in, it will be great.”
Wilson currently projects to be the starting quarterback when the Badgers open the season at home versus UNLV on September 1st. If he handles opposing defense like the way he handled the media blitz on Media Day, I have no doubt he will help the Badgers contend for another Big Ten Championship.
What do you think of Russell Wilson and Russell-Mania? Can he help the Badgers contend for a National Championship or are the Badgers slightly overrated in 2011? Let me know by commenting below!
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, and Milwaukee Brewers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.