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College Teams Fri Oct 14 2011

Big Ten Football: Wisconsin's New Star QB

Thumbnail image for big ten divisions vertical.JPGLast season, only two college quarterbacks had at least 25 passing touchdowns and nine rushing touchdowns. One of those was Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton. The other was relatively unheralded North Carolina State quarterback Russell Wilson. This season, as Newton is wowing the NFL, Russell Wilson is starring at Wisconsin, asserting himself as a national star.

After receiving his degree in communications at N.C. State and spending a spring with the Colorado Rockies' Asheville, N.C., affiliate, Wilson arrived at Wisconsin this spring to plug the one glaring hole in an offense that tore through the 2010 season en route to the Rose Bowl. And despite having just a few short months to learn an entire new offensive scheme and its nuances, Wilson has hit the ground running -- both figuratively and sometimes literally -- in leading the Badgers to an impressive 5-0 start.

Unlike Newton, who entered the NFL draft with myriad questions about his accuracy competency, Wilson's quarterback pedigree is outstanding. He throws accurately, completes passes outside of the pocket, has a strong arm, a quick release, and boasts a terrific football IQ and work ethic.

In fact, Wilson's biggest flaw might be the one thing that is completely outside of his control: his height. At just 5'11", Wilson is far shorter than any NFL offensive line he'd be playing behind. But the Badgers do him a big favor in this regard in that their offense is more than just pro-style; it's also pro-sized.

Wisconsin's offensive front averages out to about 6'5" and 320 pounds, and Wilson's proving to be more than effective at navigating and seeing the field behind them. He has spread the ball around so well that six different Badgers have over 100 yards receiving already this season. He has been sacked just five times and thrown only one interception.

In his biggest test as a Badger two weeks ago against a stingy Nebraska defense, Wilson completed 70 percent of his passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns, good for a 210.1 passer rating that didn't even include his 32 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

The game was heralded as the historic Nebraska program's introduction to the Big Ten, but it also served as Russell Wilson's introduction to the world. And perhaps the most impressive part of that performance is that those numbers depreciated his season statistics. To this point, he has dominated nearly every aspect of the game.

Wilson already has an official Twitter page for his Heisman campaign, and even those outside of Madison are touting him as a frontrunner for the most prestigious individual award in all of college football.

Not bad for a guy who just got to campus a few short months ago.

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