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March 19, 2008

Wilson takes aim on starting quarterback job

Russell Wilson is getting a crash course in time management this spring.

The NC State freshman quarterback and baseball player is pulling double-duty. Wilson has been starting at third base, second base and designated hitter for the Wolfpack.

However, with the start of spring football practice Tuesday, Wilson is concentrating on trying to win the starting quarterback position for the Pack. Wilson could miss up to 12 baseball games, but he will do his best to keep the number to a minimum.

"I know it is going to be pretty busy," said Wilson, who redshirted this past fall in football. "I know that school will come first, and I have to get to all of my classes.

"On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I'll have to get up in the mornings for football. Then on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, we have to practice for football."

The baseball team usually plays games on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and the weekend. The Saturday football practices are what will cause the bulk of the missed baseball games.

"I know if I can stay organized and get my work done, it should be fine," Wilson said.

"I have a lot of support and help from my coaching staffs, my tutors and my academic coordinator."

Spring football practice ends with the annual Red/White intrasquad football game on April 19 at Carter-Finley Stadium. That weekend the baseball team is playing a three-game series at Virginia Tech. In cases like this, football comes first.

"I think we should have a pretty good team in the spring and hopefully everyone comes out for the spring game," Wilson said. "I'm sure it will be a relief on my body more than anything when spring football ends. I'm just trying to do as much as I can. God gave me all this talent so I can use it."

NC State quarterbacks Daniel Evans and Harrison Beck both return, as does redshirt sophomore Justin Burke. Evans will likely miss the spring with a shoulder injury, giving Wilson more opportunities to earn repetitions.

"I want to get better at leading the team," Wilson said. "I want to do all the little things that will get us ready to play South Carolina in the season opener [Aug. 28].

"I pray that Daniel gets better. I know he wants to compete. At the same time, I want to compete. It's tough getting in the flow of things when you are going in and out with four QBs."

The 19-year-old Wilson is hoping his hard work this spring results in a starting spot against the Gamecocks.

"It's been something I'm set on and something I've been determined about," Wilson said. "I want to do it and know I have the opportunity. I just want to attack it and keep a level head with it."

Wilson posted impressive numbers on the prep level, throwing for 3,009 yards and rushing for 1,132 yards his senior year at Richmond Collegiate School. He completed 59.7 percent of his passes, threw for 34 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and rushed for 18 scores in guiding Collegiate to its second straight state title.

Wilson passed for 3,287 yards and 40 touchdowns his junior year, and added 634 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns.

Rivals.com rated Wilson as a two-star prospect, but it didn't take him long to earn praise from the football coaches.

He was named the offensive scout team player of the year last fall and earned compliments from NC State coach Tom O'Brien for his leadership. Wilson is ready to run NC State's offense this spring after running opposing teams' offenses throughout the fall.

"You want to be an expert at it," Wilson said. "I've been meeting with my offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Coach [Dana] Bible, as much as I can. I've been studying and watching tons of film. I enjoy studying the game."

The 5-11, 197-pound Wilson has started five games and played in 10 for the Wolfpack baseball team. He is hitting .360 with one double, two RBI and three stolen bases through 15 games.

"I've gotten into a lot of pressure situations so far in baseball," Wilson said. "I don't always start, but I get into the game and might be needed for a big hit. I might not always succeed, but I attack it pretty well. I've stayed pretty calm and collected for the most part."


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