Sometimes a little goes a long way. Russell Wilson, a third-round draft pick (75th overall) in 2012, has gone all the way from short-season single-A baseball two years ago to being named the starting quarterback of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.
Listed at 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds, Wilson impressed in camp as he completed 67 percent of his passes, going 35-of-52 for 464 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. His performance in the club’s third preseason game, against Kansas City on Aug. 24, likely helped him win the starting spot as he went 13-for-19 for 185 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed twice for another 58 yards.
Wilson beat out both Matt Flynn and last year’s starter, Tarvaris Jackson, for the job. Flynn had signed a three-year, $19-million deal in March, largely based on an outstanding game he played against the Detroit Lions with his former team, the Green Bay Packers. In that New Year’s Day game, Flynn set club records with 480 passing yards and six touchdowns in a 45-41 victory.
Despite his status as the perceived incumbent, Flynn’s preseason numbers were not as impressive as Wilson’s (17-of-26 for 102 yards, no TDs and one pickoff). It was still widely expected that Flynn would be the starting pivot because of the multimillion-dollar contract the club negotiated with him. However, Carroll insisted the job would be an open contest.
“It’s been a very exciting competition that has gone on, and Russell has taken full advantage of his opportunities and has done everything that we have asked for on the field and more than what you guys could know off the field in meeting rooms and with our players and how he’s represented. He’s earned this job,” head coach Pete Carroll said in a conference call. “It was a legitimate competition as we said from the beginning, and with the opportunity he’s taken advantage of he deserves to start.”
The Seahawks are undefeated in three preseason games, topping the league by scoring 60 more points than they’ve allowed: 101 to 41. Wilson will start the final preseason game against the Oakland Raiders Aug. 30 and the season opener at Arizona Sept. 9. Flynn will be the backup, while the Seahawks are negotiating a trade of Jackson to the Buffalo Bills.
For baseball fans on the West Coast, the name Russell Wilson might ring a bell. In 2010, Wilson was drafted in the fourth round (140th overall) by the Colorado Rockies, and he played 32 games as a second baseman for the Tri-City Dust Devils of the Northwest League; the Vancouver Canadians also play in that league, and won its championship in 2011.