Russell Wilson Instantly Makes Wisconsin Big Ten Leaders Division Favorites

Robby DonohoContributor IIJune 27, 2011

RALEIGH, NC - OCTOBER 28:  Russell Wilson #16 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack runs with the ball against the Florida State Seminoles during their game at Carter-Finley Stadium on October 28, 2010 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Wisconsin Badgers have been the picture of consistency over the past decade in the Big Ten.

Nine out of the past 10 years, the Badgers have been bowling. Four of those games gave Wisconsin a year ending on a high note.

Even before the 2011 season has even started, Bret Bielema's Badgers may have already reached a high point.

Today, Wisconsin officially announced that former NC State quarterback Russell Wilson will play his final season of college football in Madison for the Badgers.

Wilson will be eligible to play immediately under NCAA rules that allow graduating players with one season of eligibility remaining to play upon transferring to a new school.

The Richmond, VA native has had quite the summer. The star baseball player had been playing this summer for the Colorado Rockies' Single-A Asheville Tourists, but decided to stick with the pigskin in hopes of playing in the NFL someday.

There's no doubting that the fan base in Madison is excited about the new signee, but imagine how the football team is feeling right now.

Coming into this season, the Badgers had next to nothing returning at the QB position. Bret Bielema was expected to start Jon Budmayr, who has thrown just 10 passes in his career in Madison. The plans will more than likely change now that a proven QB enters the fold.

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  The Wisconsin Badgers huddle together during their game against the TCU Horned Frogs in the 97th Rose Bowl game on January 1, 2011 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

That has to put the head coach at ease, and he gave us a sense of comfort in his official statement concerning Wilson:

This is an unusual situation, especially for a program that prides itself on developing players throughout their careers, as we do here at Wisconsin. However, this is a special situation and Russell is the type of player and person that fits very well with our team.

Here's what Bret Bielema is more than likely saying to himself: there's no way I'm starting an inexperienced sophomore QB when I have one of the best returning passers in the country.

With the departure of one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the country in Scott Tolzien, the addition of the senior Wilson will instantly make the Badger passing attack an area that will need to be addressed in opposing game plans.

The former Wolfpack star quarterback lit up the scoreboard last year, accounting for 39 touchdowns and putting up ungodly numbers for an ACC quarterback.

Try this on for size: Wilson was No. 1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference in total offense, passing offense, 22nd in rushing and 21st in scoring (by himself).

Wilson is your prototypical pocket passer, that also has the ability to run. He won't tote the rock too often on his own, but his ability may give another weapon in Bret Bielema's offensive arsenal. 

ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 28:  Russell Wilson #16 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack calls a play during the Champs Sports Bowl against the West Virginia Mountineers at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium on December 28, 2010 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Mike E
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Just last year, Wilson led the Wolfpack to an impressive victory over nationally ranked West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl, while passing for 28 touchdowns and over 3,500 yards passing.

Those stats will immediately carry over onto a team that now has the ability to beat opponents with the run or the pass.

The weapons that Wilson will have around him could be some of the best in the Big Ten. A rushing attack that brings in the likes of James White and Montee Ball, a receiving corps that features big time play maker Nick Toon, and Mr. Reliable Jake Byrne at tight end, it's like Christmas in June for the Badgers.

Coming into the season, Wilson's 76 TD passes are third most amongst returning QB's and that will only increase as the Badgers will unleash an all-out offensive blitz on the Big Ten.

Six times last season the Badgers put up more than 40 points in a game. Don't expect things to change in 2011, as the Wisconsin Badgers have now cemented themselves as the favorite to play for a Big Ten title in Indianapolis this year.


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