Russell Wilson is heading back to one of the campuses where he once shined as a college athlete before becoming a star for the Seattle Seahawks. He will return to N.C. State’s Carter-Finley Stadium in May to attend two in-person, outdoor graduation ceremonies. Wilson will deliver the commencement speeches on May 14 and 15.
“We are honored to welcome Russell Wilson back to NC State to inspire our spring 2021 graduates at these very special commencement ceremonies,” Chancellor Randy Woodson said, per the News & Observer. “Russell has always supported his alma mater well and represented NC State with class. We know our students, their families and our entire Wolfpack community will be excited to see Russell back home at Carter-Finley Stadium.”
Wilson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication from N.C. State in 2010. He later took advantage of the NCAA’s graduate transfer rule to play for the University of Wisconsin in 2011.
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Wilson was a standout quarterback for the Wolfpack
The Seahawks’ star spent three seasons as N.C. State’s starter after redshirting in 2007 and made a name as one of the best quarterbacks in the program’s history. He threw for 8,545 yards and 76 touchdowns during his time with the team, earning ACC Rookie of the Year and team MVP in 2008. He also set the NCAA record for the most pass attempts without an interception (379).
Wilson led the Wolfpack to two bowl games during his time under center. N.C. State lost to Rutgers in the 2008 PapaJohns.com Bowl. The team then defeated West Virginia in the 2010 Champs Sports Bowl. However, Wilson’s time with N.C. State came to an end when head coach Tom O’Brien told him that he wouldn’t see the field.
“The summer before my senior year of college, I’m playing minor-league baseball. I called my football coach at NC State and said, ‘Hey coach, I’d like to come back for my senior year.’ He told me I wasn’t coming back,” Wilson explained during a 2016 commencement speech at Wisconsin, per ESPN.
“He said, ‘Listen, son, you’re never going to play in the National Football League. You’re too small. There’s no chance. You’ve got no shot. Give it up.’ Of course, I’m on this side of the phone saying, ‘So you’re telling me I’m not coming back to NC State? I won’t see the field?’ He said, ‘No son, you won’t see the field.'”
Wilson proved his former coach wrong in a decisive fashion
O’Brien said that Wilson was too small to play in the NFL, but he was incorrect. The Seahawks selected the quarterback with a third-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, and he became an immediate starter. Wilson then led the team to the playoffs as a rookie and earned the first of seven Pro Bowl nominations.
Wilson continued to make a name as one of the NFL’s top talents in 2013 and 2014, throwing for a combined 46 touchdowns and only 16 interceptions. He led a powerful offense that featured running back Marshawn Lynch and wide receivers Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate, Percy Harvin, and Jermaine Kearse. The Seahawks defeated the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII but lost to the Patriots the following year.
While the Seahawks have not returned to the Big Game in the years since losing to the Patriots, they have remained a perennial playoff contender due to Wilson’s play. He has continued to complete more than 60% of his throws each year while utilizing his scrambling ability and often compensating for the offensive line struggles.
Along with earning seven trips to the Pro Bowl, Wilson is the franchise’s all-time leader in passing yards (33,946), touchdowns (267), and completions (2,820). Wilson is also seventh in franchise history in rushing touchdowns with 21.