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Avent: Letting Wilson go a bad decision for NC State

Posted January 23
Updated January 24

— Before Russell Wilson was a Seattle Seahawks quarterback, before he attended the University of Wisconsin, before he was a player with the Colorado Rockies organization, and even before he was a signal caller for North Carolina State University, he was a baseball prospect as a top-level shortstop.

“I was in Salem, Va., watching a game on a bad field – the best players in the state of Virginia,” said N.C. State head baseball coach Elliott Avent. “I liked this shortstop, very raw, but I liked him. In fact, I kind of said, ‘That shortstop is pretty good.’ I knew some farmer would come over and say, ‘Hey coach, if you like him in baseball, you should see him throw a football. He's the best quarterback the state of Virginia has ever had.’”

Avent immediately called then-Wolfpack head football coach Chuck Amato.

“I said, ‘Hey Chuck, what do you know about Russell Wilson?' (He said) 'I'll call you right back.’” Avent recalled. “He called back and said everybody likes him, but he's a little short. I'm like, ‘Here we go again.’”

Avent subsequently placed a call to Wolfpack offensive coordinator Mark Trestman – now the head coach of the Chicago Bears.

“I called Trestman and said, ‘Hey Mark, I need you to get Russell Wilson in camp and convince Chuck that he's a little taller than he is,’” Avent recounted. “Next thing you know, they sign Russell, and the rest is history.”

It was at that point that the long journey for the baseball player – and quarterback – began in earnest.

“Chuck and I recruited him for baseball, football. It was always baseball, football,” Avent said. “Now, in the process, Chuck leaves, and in comes Tom O'Brien. I had to go to Tom O'Brien and say, ‘This is baseball, football.’”

For three years, Wilson made the delicate balance of school, baseball and football work.

“He would actually get up at 5 a.m. to go to the early workouts for football so he could be out here in the afternoon,” Avent said of Wilson’s baseball dedication.

It got more complicated the summer before his third year, when Wilson was drafted by the Rockies. He played minor league baseball that summer, reported to fall football camp on time and produced a stellar campaign under center.

He wanted to continue playing minor league baseball the summer of 2011. O'Brien wanted Wilson to spend more time with football. The coach’s question: Do I take Wilson for one year or Mike Glennon for two?

"He’s not coming back. He’ll be a baseball player,” O’Brien said at the time. “We have to move forward with Glennon. We’ve planned for this day. I can’t sit here and say we’re going to wait for Russell to come back. We have to move forward. Mike is going to be the quarterback. That’s how we are going.”

That led to the transfer to Wisconsin where Wilson continued to flourish in one season as a Badger.

“It was something I wasn't very happy about,” Avent recounted. “I think it was one of the bad decisions in college sports – and not on Russell's part. I'm just saying we should have found a way to keep Russell Wilson here.”

59 Comments

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  • Objective Scientist Jan 25, 1:31 p.m.

    Yes sir we sure had some great games with Mike. Reminds me of Monte Kiffin sticking with Tol... View More

    — Posted by arcansawtuthpik

    "When in battle do not give up your best warrior. TOB forgot that." Not an NCSU fan, but as I recall... is not TOB a former US Marine? I know some retired Marines... with active duty even decades ago. Have any of them "forgot" about throwing anything and everything you have at your enemy... to defeat that enemy and to survive the battle? Not one of them! Yea... I know, I'm not naive. We use "military/battle talk, analogies, phrases" all the time in sports, politics, and who knows what else. But com'on! We're talking here about a college sport. There has to be some point beyond which we are not willing to go to "win" a game! That said... TOB had a decision to make... a very difficult decision! I have no doubt he WANTED Wilson as his QB for another year. He wanted his best "weapon" on the field. From what I know of the situation he made what he - TOB - thought, as HEAD COACH, was best LONG-TERM for the program.

  • arcansawtuthpik Jan 25, 1:08 p.m.

    Yes sir we sure had some great games with Mike. Reminds me of Monte Kiffin sticking with Tol Avery. It boils down to the best chance for the Wolfpack to win. The rest is mere opinion. I liked TOB, but letting Wilson go was a mistake of the highest caliber. When in battle you do not give up your best warrior. TOB forgot that. Mike is an ok QB, but will never achieve the success that you are seeing Wilson have.

  • Doc Holliday Jan 25, 12:38 p.m.

    I'm a "Carolina guy", but I always enjoyed watching Russell Wilson play... great athlete. From... View More

    — Posted by Objective Scientist

    +1...appreciating the student-athlete.

  • Objective Scientist Jan 25, 10:27 a.m.

    All QBs can be "better" with regard to their play calling on Monday mornings... likewise with coaches and the decisions they made on Sat or Sun. It is "easy" to make a better call after having seen the tape of the game. That said... O'Brian had to make a decision at that time. NCSU folks who loved Wilson wanted to get to watch him another year... understandable. I'm a Carolina guy and I liked watching him play. Having been a coach myself earlier in my life... I can empathize with O'Brian. I followed the story closely as it developed.... and we all now have the "hindsight" to better judge the call O'Brian made. Then... and now.... I believe he made the "right call" given the circumstances he faced, and the hand he had been dealt by Wilson and the circumstances. It was the right call then... and, now having a retrospective perspective, it remains the right call by O'Brian.

  • Objective Scientist Jan 25, 10:14 a.m.

    I'm a "Carolina guy", but I always enjoyed watching Russell Wilson play... great athlete. From information in the media it also appears that he was a very solid student in the classroom. I will always appreciate the STUDENT-ATHLETE more than the mere ATHLETE.

  • NCSUclassof90 Jan 25, 9:15 a.m.

    TOB did the right thing under the circumstances. RW did the right thing under the circumstances. Neither of them have hard feelings. State fans have no hard feelings. RW loves us. We love him. And to all you tarholes who like to poke this particular fire with your filthy sticks, where are your NFL QBs?

  • robbins Jan 25, 8:20 a.m.

    Letting him go may not have been good for NC State, but this State fan realizes that a year with a powerhouse like Wisconsin certainly helped him be ready for the NFL. I'll always be a Russell Wilson fan.

  • Doc Holliday Jan 24, 11:46 p.m.

    If it was such a bad idea, Coach, why wasn't RW an every game player for you? And didn't he have like the 10th highest BA on the team the year he got drafted?

  • sweet D Jan 24, 4:48 p.m.

    gotta love Avent.....great guy in person, also....Avents' Army, baby!!

  • Honesty first Jan 24, 4:28 p.m.

    Throw OBrien under the bus coach. Easy to say this now since he is gone.

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
NCCU 65
EILL 40
Final
NCSU 60
BSU 54
 
Final
PIT 2
CAR 4
 
Final
CHA 101
GSW 106
 
2nd
UF 41
UNC 56
 
2nd
TULSA 14
ECU 14
 
Final
BOS 102
CHI 109
Final
CHA 101
GSW 106
 
4th
TOR 69
DAL 75
 
4th
DET 84
MIL 101
 
4th
ATL 94
NOP 82
 
3rd
HOU 57
LAC 71
 
3rd
OKC 68
NYK 40
 
3rd
IND 66
ORL 55
 
Half
SAN 61
SAC 51
 
2nd
DEN 33
PHO 22
 
10:00pm Tonight
POR
MEM
10:30pm Tonight
LAL
MIN
Final
WMICH 21
NILL 31
Final
SMU 9
HOU 35
Final
IOWA 34
NEB 37
Final
SFLA 0
UCF 16
Final
MARS 66
WKENT 67
Final
KSU 27
AKR 24
Final
BGU 24
BST 41
Final
UMASS 21
BUF 41
Final
EMICH 16
TOL 52
Final
MIZZ 21
ARK 14
Final
SALABAMA 40
NAVY 42
Final
ARZ 42
ARST 35
Final
AFA 27
COLST 24
Final
UCLA 10
STAN 31
2nd
VT 10
UVA 13
 
2nd
TULSA 14
ECU 14
 
Final
NCCU 65
EILL 40
Final
KU 82
TENN 67
Final
TEXAM 87
NO 65
 
Final
NCAT 57
RAD 65
 
Final
GEOR 58
BUT 64
Final
BRO 81
PVU 71
Final
RIU 66
SCU 44
Final
NARZ 70
SOUTH 63
Final
DART 68
MAST 67
Final
WRST 59
FIU 61
Final
XAV 73
UTEP 77
Final
OSU 73
JMU 56
Final
TXSOU 71
LAM 59
 
Final
TAMCC 75
MVSU 66
 
Final
AKAN 51
MIZST 55
Final
BUCK 80
PSU 88
 
Final
PROV 72
YALE 66
Final
UGA 62
MINN 66
Final
WISC 69
OKLA 56
Final
Terriers 70
NORST 72
 
Final
PEAY 62
STEPH 83
Final
FSU 58
CSOU 47
 
Final
VALPO 66
DRAK 46
Final
CIN 69
MTST 51
Final
SDU 75
PRIN 65
Final
WASU 76
RICE 74
 
Final
CSFU 64
USCU 79
Final
GT 61
RIDE 54
 
Final
TXPA 79
ALAST 91
 
Final
NCSU 60
BSU 54
 
Final
TCU 57
BRAD 49
 
Final
WAKE 65
DELST 72
 
Final
HART 83
EMERSON 50
 
Final
STJ 66
GONZ 73
 
Final
CLEM 62
HIGH 59
 
Final
SYR 72
HC 48
 
Final
MD 61
MON 56
 
Final
JVST 74
SAV 71
 
Final
MIAMI 87
SALA 75
 
Final
RUTG 68
VANDY 65
 
2nd
PETE 63
TENST 57
 
2nd
MARS 47
CLST 49
 
2nd
JST 44
HOF 72
 
2nd
INDST 40
MEM 54
 
2nd
UF 41
UNC 56
 
2nd
LATU 53
SAMF 37
 
2nd
TULA 66
SELA 53
 
2nd
NEB 67
TENNM 58
 
2nd
MISS 31
CREI 37
 
2nd
PORT 35
MURST 34
 
1st
MARQ 18
MSU 20
 
1st
ARK 31
UNT 30
 
1st
NCOL 29
STET 18
 
1st
IND 33
UNCG 14
 
1st
SJST 16
WMICH 25
 
1st
MNTST 29
TXARL 19
 
1st
UVA 0
LAS 0
 
1st
STLU 0
MSST 0
 
1st
COLST 5
PAC 0
 
10:00pm Tonight
UTAH
NDAK
10:30pm Tonight
ILL
BAY
10:30pm Tonight
UAB
UCLA
11:30pm Tonight
WASH
LBSU
11:59pm Tonight
UCSB
MERC
Final
PHI 0
NYR 3
Final
ANA 1
CHI 4
Final
WAS 5
NYI 2
Final
PIT 2
CAR 4
 
3rd
NJD 4
DET 4
 
3rd
BUF 2
MON 1
 
Final
CLB 0
VAN 5
 
1st OT
BOS 1
WIN 1
 
3rd
FLA 2
OTT 2
 
2nd Intermission
STL 1
EDM 2
 
2nd
DAL 0
MIN 2