Well, this is certainly an unexpected development. Kinda.
Back in February, head coach Tom O’Brien appeared to slam the door shut on the possibility of quarterback Russell Wilson — runner-up for the ACC’s Offensive Player of the Year last season as well as a baseball player in the Colorado Rockies’ minor league system — returning to North Carolina State for one more season in 2011. Of late, however, Wilson has intimated that he was considering a return to football, although O’Brien fired back at that speculation by stating Wilson would be the backup if he returned.
After today’s news, such talk has abruptly become a moot point.
In a release issued by the school Friday evening, O’Brien announced that Wilson — third in school history in passing yards (8,645) and second in passing touchdowns (76) — has been released from his NCSU scholarship and is free to transfer to another school if he still desires to play football at the collegiate level. The decision to release Wilson also makes it crystal clear what O’Brien has been stating for a month a more: Mike Glennon is his starter at QB for the 2011 season.
“Russell and I have had very open conversations about his responsibilities respective to baseball and football,” said O’Brien in a statement. “While I am certainly respectful of Russell’s dedication to baseball these last several years, within those discussions I also communicated to him the importance of his time commitment to NC State Football.
“My staff and I thank him for his contributions as a member of Wolfpack football and to this University and wish him only the best in the future.”
Wilson said in his own statement that while he “remain[s] undecided on the option of playing college football this coming season, I believe it is in the best interest of the players and coaches involved to end any speculation of my return to the Wolfpack. It has become apparent that the time has come for the program to move on without me.”
Even as Wilson remains undecided about his football future, the name of one possible destination immediately popped into our mind when we first heard the news of the talented QB’s release: South Carolina. Given the uncertainty swirling around Stephen Garcia, the Gamecocks would be a near-perfect landing spot for Wilson if he decides to continue playing football at the collegiate level. As Wilson has already received a degree in communications from NCSU, he would be eligible to play immediately at USC — or anywhere else at the Div. 1-A level, for that matter — provided he enrolls in a graduate program not offered at his former school.
It might be worth at least a shot for Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks. Hell, the one-and-done method at the QB position didn’t work out too shabby for another SEC school in 2010; who’s to say lightning can’t strike in the same conference in back-to-back seasons?
UPDATED 7:09 p.m. ET: The Raleigh News & Observer reports that, based on the terms outlined in his release, Wilson will not be permitted to transfer to any school in the ACC or one on their 2011 schedule. The Wolfpack’s non-conference slate consists of Liberty, South Alabama, Cincinnati and Central Michigan.