Tudor: Dana Bible saw early 'it factor' in Pro Bowler Russell Wilson

ctudor@newsobserver.comJanuary 24, 2013 

Russell Wilson talks with offensive coordinator Dana Bible as they walk onto the field before the start of the second half during the Kay Yow Spring Football game Saturday April 18, 2009.

ETHAN HYMAN - 2009 NEWS & OBSERVER FILE PHOTO

As N.C. State’s quarterback from 2008 through 2010, Russell Wilson frequently found himself discussing his NFL role model – Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints.

The 5-foot-11 Wilson always cited Brees, 6-0, as living proof that the prototypical size specs for NFL quarterbacks could be defied.

After one season as a rookie starter for the Seattle Seahawks, there’s every reason to believe Wilson, 24, a Pro Bowler, soon will replace Brees, 33, as the patron saint of undersized pro quarterback hopefuls.

“He’s an amazing football player, truly amazing,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll told reporters after the Seahawks’ 30-28 playoff loss at Atlanta on Jan. 13.

Down 20-0 at one stage in the game, Wilson wound up passing for 385 yards and two touchdowns, then ran for another score.

Winning quarterback Matt Ryan, formerly of Boston College, called Wilson’s performance “incredible in every respect.”

Sitting in Raleigh and watching on television, no one in the country had more insight about the play of Wilson – and Ryan – than Dana Bible. He coached both players – Ryan for three seasons at Boston College and Wilson with the Wolfpack.

“It was a great game, but I was just pulling for the quarterbacks,” Bible said.

Wilson transferred to Wisconsin for his final season of college ball but has remained close to Bible, who was questioned extensively by NFL scouts about the quarterback’s ability to excel in a position normally manned by much taller passers.

“There were teams that were interested, some that had no interest whatsoever because of his height and a few that were sort of curious,” Bible said.

“But no matter how tall you are, you’re not really throwing over people. You’re throwing between people and that’s something Russell has always understood and used to his advantage.”

From the start – Wilson’s redshirt freshman season in 2007 – Bible said there was never about a question of arm strength.

“He’s always had the big arm. That’s the first thing I noticed,” Bible said. “There wasn’t any doubt about his ability to make the tough throws.”

But Wilson’s first start – a 34-0 loss at South Carolina to open the 2008 season – immediately led to questions about his ability to avoid injuries. He was carted off the field on a stretcher after suffering a concussion.

After missing the following game against William & Mary, Wilson returned to play much of the game in a loss at Clemson and then had a breakout game the following week in Raleigh – a 30-24 overtime win over 15th-ranked East Carolina.

“You could see by then he had the ‘it factor,’ ” Bible said. “From that point on, there wasn’t much of a limit to what he was capable of doing. His accuracy is just really exceptional. That hasn’t changed at any level.”

Wilson finished the regular season with 3,118 yards and 26 touchdown passes. He was intercepted only 10 times on 393 attempts.

Bible said Wilson’s impact could lead NFL scouts to look closer at smaller quarterbacks in the future.

“There’s no guarantee and really, every player had to be evaluated on his own no matter what the size or position is,” Bible said. “But the folks making the (draft) decisions have to at least keep it in mind. They can’t afford not to.”

It’s certain that given a mulligan on the 2012 draft, lots of teams would have picked Wilson long before the middle of third round.

“I think you saw, with Russell Wilson’s development, how far he can take us,” Seahawks tight end Zach Miller told The Seattle Times after the game at Atlanta.

“Obviously, he’s a franchise quarterback. He’s a guy who wins games for you. We saw that today.”

Bible, like so many Wolfpack fans, long ago saw those traits in Wilson.

Tudor: 919-829-8946

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