Back on June 27th, 2011 Brett Belema and the Wisconsin Badgers received a commitment from what may have been their most important prospect to date, as well as the key to taking them to the next level of college footballs’ elite. Wisconsin, coming off of an impressive Rose Bowl season that saw them win the Big Ten title, returns 14 starters, and is primed to make yet another run at the Big Ten title, and perhaps for the first time ever, a nation title. The Badgers, while having had many solid quarterbacks over the past decade, have not seen a signal caller of Russell Wilson’s caliber for some time, if ever. Wilson’s success at NC State came almost instantly, as he became the first ever freshman to earn 1st team all ACC QB honors when he passed for 1,955, with a staggering 17 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio. The very next year, Wilson set an NCAA record for passes thrown without an interception (379!), while throwing for 3,027 yards and 31 touchdowns. Even more impressive, Wilson managed to take his game to the next level yet again last year when he threw for an impressive 3,563 yards in route to becoming just the second Wolf-pack QB ever to manage 1,000 career rushing yards.
This sort of production is in sharp contrast to what Wisconsin saw from its’ last QB, Scott Tolzien, who threw for 2,705 yards and a conservative 16 touchdown passes. While these numbers are certainly solid, they pale in comparison to what Wilson has brought to the table in the past. Wilson is an extremely heady player that does not often make mistakes, while also possessing the ability to move around in the pocket, and if necessary, escape it. In fact, last year NC State saw Wilson rush for well over 400 yards, while also rushing for an impressive 9 touchdowns. This sort of play will fit in perfectly with a Badger offense that prides itself on rushing the football and attacking defenses with a massive offensive line. Given Wilsons’ ability, the Badgers offense should be able to keep the opposition off-balance with a vastly improved vertical passing game (Wilson has averaged an impressive 7.3 yds per attempt in his career), which will undoubtedly keep defenses honest, thereby taking away their ability to stack the box. Ultimately, if Wilson can put together another strong season, which at this point one would have no reason not to expect, the Badgers may be better equipped to make a run at the national title than they have ever been.
Note: It should come as no surprise that early last week Wilson was officially named the starting QB for the Badgers, as well as being voted the teams’ co-captain. By all accounts he has fit in tremendously with his new teammates, and it is obvious that they are absolutely behind him as their starting QB, as they should be. It is imperative that the Badgers offensive line keeps him healthy this year, especially considering the fact that back-up QB Jon Budmayr is out indefinitely with an injured elbow. After Russell Wilson there is a cliff in talent amongst the Badgers remaining QBs. If Wilson goes down, the rest of his team will likely come with him.