School: North Carolina State University
Major: Master's of Arts in Libral Studies
After most practices during Colorado Rockies spring training, Russell Wilson can be spotted putting in extra practice time to smooth any rough edges in his game.
Even after a good day on the dirt, Wilson says he is never satisfied.
"I don't want to be common," says the 22-year-old. "I want to be special. I work every day on my dream of being a hall-of-famer one day."
During Rockies' training camp, that meant starting the day before sunrise to get to the training facility and then enduring a grueling workout with the team until mid-afternoon. Afterward, he would spend a few more hours working on various aspects of his game before heading back to his digs to jump into the online graduate study courses he's taking through North Carolina State University.
Wilson was drafted in the fourth round by the Rockies in 2010, spending the summer playing second base with the Class A Tri-City Dust Devils. He went back to school in the fall as NCSU's starting quarterback, throwing for a career-high 3,563 yards with 28 touchdowns while leading the Wolfpack to a 9-4 record, including a win in the Champs Sports Bowl. His numbers are the second best in NC State football history, behind only NFL superstar Philip Rivers. Wilson finished a degree in communications a year early and began taking graduate courses soon after.
Working with the Rockies means his dreams of a professional football career are only sidelined, Wilson says. He has a year of eligibility left in football, which he's still contemplating. At approximately 6'0" and 200 pounds, he is considered undersized to play quarterback in the NFL, but his athleticism, agility and sub-4.7 second 40-yard-dash time make him an intriguing gamble, say some NFL draft experts.
Wilson keeps in his mind Matthew 6:33, which says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” His future is out of his hands, he says. And he’s OK with that.
“I know the Lord has put me in an unbelievable situation,” he says. “I’m not really worried about what’s going to happen. I try to be the best I can be. All those things will work themselves out.”
Wilson has been a multi-sport athlete as long as he can Remember. In high school, he played football, baseball and basketball. When he got to NCSU in the summer of 2007, he dropped basketball, playing two sports while maintaining a high grade-point average.
Athletics seems to be a popular family pastime. His father, the late Harrison Wilson III, played football and baseball for Dartmouth College and had appeared in a preseason game with the San Diego Chargers. His brother, Harrison Wilson IV, played the same sports for the University of Richmond. His grandfather, Harrison Wilson Jr., also played sports.
Wilson is continuing his education, which includes a few graduate-level business courses, because he says he knows the prospects of a professional athletic career — even for someone with two-sport talent — are never a guarantee. Balancing sports and education has meant little sacrifice to Wilson, who says both come naturally. There’s also an internal motivation to do well at every task he takes on, he says.
“The Lord gave me the talent to do the athletic side and the brain to do the school side,” says Wilson. “I see myself as doing whatever it takes to be great.”
Wilson says he wants to be in a place one day to help aspiring athletes who lack the focus in finding their path. He also sees the possibility of some sports commentating down the road.
But for now, he is taking full advantage of the opportunity to play professional baseball. That means while his NCSU friends were enjoying spring break, Wilson was making inroads with his new baseball family. He arrived in Scottsdale, Ariz., a few days before spring training began, hoping to get a head start on training. He says that, when it’s time for him to step up, he wants to be ready.
He’s motivated through his faith, and through the knowledge that this was something his father wanted for him. Harrison Wilson III died the day after the younger Wilson was selected by the Rockies in last year’s draft.