Lucas at Large: Visit sold Wilson on UW ... and vice versa

110628_FB_Wilson.jpgAfter huddling with Russell Wilson during his campus visit, UW athletic director Barry Alvarez felt like the former North Carolina State quarterback would be a good catch because of his character.

Alvarez sensed Wilson was more interested in joining a program that had a chance to win a Big Ten championship (UW) than a defending national champion (Auburn) that offered more glitz.

The Ol' Ball Coach emerged in Alvarez when he quizzed Wilson on why he wanted to come to Madison. He heard what he wanted to hear, too, from someone who's mature beyond his years.

Russell Wilson, who will be 23 in November, had an undeniable presence, Alvarez noted, not unlike another elite UW athlete. "He reminded me of Jordan Taylor," Alvarez said.

Taylor, who will be 22 in September, quarterbacks the Badgers -- Bo Ryan's basketball Badgers. One of his teammates, Mike Bruesewitz, believes that Taylor will run for governor one day.

Compare that to what North Carolina State football coach Tom O'Brien once said of Wilson: "I think he certainly could be mayor. Maybe governor. Maybe president.''

In high school, Collegiate School in Richmond, Va., Wilson was the president of his junior and senior class. That speaks volumes for his leadership qualities; a staple of winning quarterback play.

It also helps to have a receiver in the family.

Wilson's older brother, Harry (short for Harrison), led the University of Richmond football team in receiving in 2004. Against Maine, he had 13 catches for 146 yards.

How competitive are the Wilsons? Very. That goes for their mom, Tammy, and little sister, Anna.

During his Monday teleconference, Russell Wilson stressed that he plans on competing for the UW's starting job like he has always competed. "Since I was 2 years old,'' he said.

That type of answer went over well with Alvarez. In this context, was there anything Wilson wanted to hear during his recruiting trip here? "There wasn't anything in particular,'' he said.

No preconceived notions, Wilson added.

"I think more than anything I wanted to understand the atmosphere and what Madison, Wisconsin, was about and what Coach Bielema was about from both a moral and coaching aspect.''

At one point, Wilson sounded like an Alvarez/Bielema hybrid when he talked about "taking care of his business,'' which is consistent with the program's mission statement, on and off the field.

"They have a great tradition here,'' Wilson said.

And now he's hoping to add to it when he makes his UW debut at Camp Randall Stadium.

"It's going to be a rockin' stadium,'' said Wilson, who wore No. 16 at NC State -- the same number that Scott Tolzien wore the last two seasons as Wisconsin's starting quarterback.

Small world, huh? And finally it stopped spinning for Wilson after weeks of deliberation.

"I'm at peace about it,'' he said. "It's the right decision for me.''
ON WISCONSIN