On the heels of a record-setting season at the University of Wisconsin, Russell Wilson has chosen football over baseball as his career focus, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/12/sports/ncaafootball/russell-wilson-of-wisconsin-picks-football-over-baseball.html?_r=1&ref=sports" target="_blank">according to Pete Thamel of the New York Times.
Wilson, a fourth-round draft choice of the Colorado Rockies in 2010, has informed the team that he will concentrate on improving his stock for the NFL draft instead of reporting to spring training.
"I want to put all my focus in football and see where it takes me," Wilson told Thamel.
The news is far from unexpected, given the success and excitement Wilson experienced with the Badgers and his difficulties in parts of two minor-league seasons.
That includes last summer when, just a couple months after declining N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien's ultimatum that he concentrate on football, the strikeout-prone Wilson left the Rockies' Single-A team in June to do just that at Wisconsin.
Still, when asked about his future while at UW, Wilson had kept open the door to a return to baseball. That's not surprising in that he needed to prove himself as an NFL prospect this season — winning over skeptics of his height as much as his talent and leadership.
Wilson, 23, is listed at 5-foot-11 and may measure shy of that on the tape measures of NFL personnel. As reported in December — thanks to research by the NFL Network's Chad Reuter — since 2000, http://host.madison.com/sports/college/football/rose-bowl-evaluating-the-nfl-prospects-of-the-badgers-and/article_406211fc-2aa1-11e1-9bdc-001871e3ce6c.html" target="_blank">only three quarterbacks under 6-feet have been invited to the NFL Combine; of that group, only former Georgia Tech signal-caller Joe Hamilton was picked.
Hamilton went in the seventh round, which is also where Wilson was projected to be taken in http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1006082-2012-nfl-mock-draft-full-7-round-projections-with-updated-order/page/8" target="_blank">the latest mock draft by BleacherReport.com — at No. 199 overall by Jacksonville, to be precise.
Meanwhile, Wes Bunting of the National Football Post http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/Ranking-the-Drafts-Top-10-Quarterback-Prospects.html" target="_blank">rates Wilson as the 10th-best quarterback prospect in the draft, projecting him as a career reserve.
Wilson — who is to be married Saturday, Thamel noted — will have a chance to audition before front office personnel from all 32 NFL teams at the Senior Bowl on Jan. 28 in Mobile, Ala.
He'll be training under former Florida State and Carolina Panthers quarterback Chris Weinke leading up to the draft, according to a tweet by ESPN college football writer Joe Schad. That's notable in that Weinke spent six years in the Toronto Blue Jays' farm system, rising to Triple-A, before joining the Seminoles at age 26. Also, last year Weinke worked with No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton, the quarterback from Auburn.
"Obviously the height question is always a factor when it comes to me for whatever reason, and I believe that I've shown that I can play behind the fourth-biggest offensive line in the country and still be successful," Wilson told UWBadgers.com recently.
"I just have to keep proving myself and have fun with it. It's a great opportunity to play with some of the greatest players in college football this season and it's going to be a lot of fun."
Wilson, a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection this season, was named the Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year in the Big Ten after a record-setting season for the Badgers.
He set the NCAA single-season record for pass efficiency (191.8) while also setting school marks for passing yards (3,175), touchdown passes (33), completions (225) and yards of total offense (3,513).
Including his time at N.C. State, Wilson threw for 11,720 yards and 109 touchdowns during his college career, while rushing for an additional 1,421 yards and 23 scores.