After leading Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl during his lone season with the Badgers, quarterback Russell Wilson has decided to pursue a career in professional football over one in baseball.
Wilson, who played parts of two minor league seasons for the Colorado Rockies' organization, has informed the team that he will be preparing for the NFL draft instead of reporting to spring training. Wilson, a fourth-round pick of the Rockies in 2010, called Colorado general manager Dan O'Dowd to inform him of the decision and said that O'Dowd was supportive.
''I want to put all my focus in football and see where it takes me," Wilson said in a phone interview Wednesday. "I know that I have the talent, aptitude and leadership to succeed on the next level."
Wilson is getting married this weekend and said he would leave the next day to train at IMG Academy in Florida with Chris Weinke, the former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback who tutored Cam Newton before last year's draft. Wilson will play in the Senior Bowl and is in the process of choosing his football agent with the help of his baseball agent, Mark Rodgers.
Wilson projects as a fourth-round pick, according to the former Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt; at 5 feet 10 inches, he is shorter than the prototypical NFL quarterback.
''We're getting shorter," Brandt said of quarterbacks in the NFL. "Drew Brees opened the doors for a lot of guys. Someone is going to take him, and I think he can play. He has a great arm, great accuracy and great mobility."
Wilson led the Badgers to a Big Ten title and an 11-3 record, and he set NCAA records for passing efficiency (191.8) and consecutive games with touchdown passes (38). He maximized his lone season at Wisconsin after transferring from North Carolina State, and said he needed to complete just one paper to receive his master's degree.
''I took a big risk to leave playing baseball and go back and play football, especially at a completely different school," Wilson said.
It paid off, as his new teammates voted him captain after a month on campus, and he learned the offensive coordinator Paul Chryst's playbook in three weeks, comparing the experience to "an AP class in football." Wilson said playing in Wisconsin's pro-style vertical passing offense and in a West Coast offense at NC State prepared him for the NFL.
He shrugged off concerns about his height, saying that his quick release and playing on his toes helped him compensate. He will need a team to believe in his production, poise and character, which Wisconsin coaches raved about.
Wilson thanked Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema, Chryst and his teammates for creating a special season in Madison.
''I couldn't have drawn it up any better," Wilson said. "It's been a perfect dream."