Athlete of the Year nominees: Russell Wilson Transfer QB broke records while leading Badgers to Big Ten title and Rose Bowl appearance
June 12, 2012
As part of its year-end look back, UW Athletics profiles 10 candidates this week leading up to the announcement of the 2011-12 Athlete of the Year awards this Friday. Today, we profile Athlete of the Year candidate Russell Wilson of the football team.
MADISON, Wis. -- At this time last year, Russell Wilson wasn't even a part of the Wisconsin family. But in just a little more than six months in a Badger uniform, he turned into a name most won't soon forget.
The transfer QB from NC State burst onto the scene in prime time on national TV during UW's 51-17 win over UNLV, throwing for two TDs and running for another.
However, his coming out party proved to be Wisconsin's dismantling of Nebraska on ESPN with College GameDay in town. He again accounted for three TDs, each of them in spectacular style, in front of a nationwide audience.
Wilson capped the season by leading UW to victory in the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game. He threw three touchdown passes, converted a critical two-point conversion and completed one of the most improbably passes in Badger history, a fourth-down heave to Jeff Duckworth to set up the game-winning TD. He was named the game's MVP and propelled UW to a second-straight Rose Bowl.
By the end of the season, Wilson had re-written the Wisconsin record book, setting an NCAA record for single-season pass efficiency (191.8). He became the first QB in school history to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season (3,175) while also setting single-season school records for touchdown passes (33), completions (225) and yards of total offense (3,513). Wilson's 33 TD passes ranks second all-time in Big Ten history and his completion percentage of .728 ranks second-best at UW and third-best in Big Ten history.
For his efforts, Wilson was named the winner of the Griese-Brees Big Ten Quarterback of the year and was also a consensus first-team All-Big Ten choice. A third-team All-American by Yahoo! Sports and Phil Steele, the Badger QB was a finalist for both the Manning Award and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.
As much as Badger fans loved having Wilson as part of the family, albeit for a short time, he enjoyed his time in Madison just as much.