This past Wednesday, ESPN's Joe Schad broke the news that former North Carolina State quarterback Russell Wilson had arrived on campus at Auburn University. He was there to meet with the Tigers coaching staff about a potential transfer. The announcement, regardless if opposing fans want to admit it or not, sent a wave of nervousness through the SEC community.
Wilson recently asked for, and was granted, a full release from North Carolina State. He asked for the release after the North Carolina State head football coach, Tom O’Brien, requested that he not play in his upcoming minor league baseball season. O'Brien wanted Wilson to be able to fully participate in spring football drills. When Wilson refused, O'Brien let him know he would no longer be the starting quarterback for the Wolfpack.
Wilson, however, has already received his degree from North Carolina State University and under NCAA rules will be allowed to play immediately for whichever school he decides to attend. The suitors for Wilson are many. The senior quarterback was only two yards short of 4,000 total yards last season and recorded 37 total touchdowns.
Will this move hurt Auburn if Wilson does not sign?
Make no mistake about it, Wilson is not Cam Newton. At 5'11" and 201 lbs he greater resembles former University of Georgia quarterback DJ Shockley. It is unlikely, even in Gus Malzahns system, that he will reach those stats this season if he plays in the SEC. However, he would make the Auburn offense far more dangerous and most likely a ten-win team.
The potential of Wilson transferring to Auburn has the Tigers nation buzzing. The excitement is high because, regardless of how much better, he clearly makes this Auburn team better . He also only has one year of eligibility remaining which keeps Auburn's plans for Kiehl Frazier on track.
However, the question must be asked, what if Wilson chooses another school? Does Auburn's flirtation with Wilson hurt this seasons team? In my opinion, the answer is a resounding yes.
This is not like recruiting a player out of high school or even a junior college player with three years to play two seasons. This is a one-year rental that allows your star freshman quarterback to get better acquainted with the college life and the speed of the game before becoming the starter.
What does this say to current Auburn quarterbacks, Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley? How does this shake their confidence knowing that their coach is trying to replace them before they received a true shot at the starting position?
Moreover, the timing of this recruitment can be damaging to the teams chemistry as well. Not only are you recruiting a one-season quarterback to take their place but you are also doing so after their initial tryout during the spring. Did you see something in them that made you believe they could not get the job done and they needed replacing?
Confidence is one of the most important parts of playing the quarterback position. This is more true in the SEC, where the game is played at a faster pace. The slightest hesitation can mean the difference in a completed pass and an interception returned for a touchdown. Though there is no way to know how these two men would respond to this adversity it could be disastrous.
Auburn has taken pride in the fact that their team is ran like a family. Do Trotter and Moseley still feel like part of the family or do they now feel like the red headed step children? Make no mistake about it, if Auburn is able to convince Wilson to join the Tigers this move is an out of the park home run. However, if they are not able to sign Wilson this move might cost their team something they can't get back.