NC State to honor Russell Wilson, Mario Williams

jgiglio@newsobserver.comMarch 25, 2014 

Since leading the Seattle Seahawks to a Super Bowl title, Russell Wilson has dabbled with baseball and Hollywood.

Wilson’s next stop: N.C. State’s spring football game.

The former Wolfpack quarterback will have his jersey honored by the school at the Kay Yow Spring Game at Carter-Finley Stadium on April 12.

Wilson and Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams will be the first two N.C. State players to have their jersey numbers used as a tribute to their college careers. Their names and numbers will go up in Carter-Finley Stadium, along with the other retired numbers, but the ensuing chosen players to wear Wilson’s No. 16 or Williams’ No. 9 will do so with a patch that honors their respective legacies.

Michigan created a similar system in 2011 and has several numbers “immortalized” or “re-circulated,” in their parlance. Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner wore the number No. 98 in honor of Tom Harmon, the 1940 Heisman Trophy winner, with a patch with the words “Michigan legend,” and the years he played, stitched on it.

“The recognition patch is an even more visible way to honor their contributions, because every time a player wearing those numbers steps on the field, he will carry their name on his uniform," N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said in a statement released by the school.

Wilson who became the first ACC quarterback to win a Super Bowl in February, started for the Wolfpack for three seasons, from 2008 to 2010. A three-time All-ACC quarterback and ACC freshman of the year in ’08, Wilson threw for 8,545 yards and 76 touchdowns in his Wolfpack career. As a fourth-year junior, he led N.C. State to a 9-4 record and a No. 25 ranking in the final AP top 25 in 2010.

“This is truly an amazing honor and I am looking forward to being back in Raleigh and Carter-Finley Stadium,” Wilson said a statement released by the school. “My experience at N.C. State was an amazing one playing football and baseball but also accomplishing my goal of graduating in three years. My memories of playing as the quarterback for the Wolfpack are never ending and the roar of the Wolfpack Nation still rings in my ear from memorable wins against FSU and UNC!

“I learned the value of great leadership, ultimate sacrifice, and the relentless belief that hard work pays off. I am grateful for all of my amazing teammates and players past, present, and future. I can still taste and sense the blood, sweat, and tears we all sacrificed to be successful.”

Wilson graduated from N.C. State then finished his career at Wisconsin in 2011, leading the Badgers to a Big Ten title and the Rose Bowl. He was a third-round pick of the Seahawks in 2012 and has won more games in his first two seasons than any NFL quarterback in the Super Bowl era.

The Seahawks beat Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2. Wilson threw for two touchdowns and completed 18 of 25 passes for 206 yards in the Seahawks’ first Super Bowl win.

Seattle teammate J.R. Sweezy and Denver linebacker Nate Irving, both former Wolfpack players, will also be at the spring game and recognized at halftime.

Already something of a folk hero in Raleigh and Madison, Wis., and his hometown of Richmond, Va., Wilson’s national profile has skyrocketed since the Super Bowl victory. He joined Tom Brady and group of NFL players for a spot in the HBO-series-turned-movie “Entourage.”

A two-sport athlete at N.C. State and former minor-league player for the Colorado Rockies, Wilson visited the Texas Rangers at spring training on March 3.

Williams, going into his ninth NFL season, starred at N.C. State from 2003 to 2005 and was the first ACC player to be taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft. His 14.5 sacks as a junior in ’05 are the single-season school record.

Williams will be honored when his schedule allows him to get back to Raleigh for a formal ceremony.

“I am very appreciative that N.C. State has decided to honor me and it will be very special to see my name in Carter-Finley Stadium,” Williams said in a statement released by the school. “It's a special place and I will always call it home.”

N.C. State has retired 10 jersey numbers, the most recent in 2003 for San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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