By Eric Rogers
May 16, 2016
MADISON, Wis. — According to Backing the Pack, a blog site focusing on North Carolina State athletics, former University of Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson embellished some of the facts he included in his commencement speech this weekend.
In his address of UW grads, Wilson spoke about always being prepared. To illustrate that point, Wilson recounted a baseball game he was a part of on Feb. 26. 2010 against UC | Irvine.
“Another time life told me no was during my junior year when I was playing baseball. My freshman and sophomore year at NC State, I had about 450 to 500 at-bats.”
According to records from NC State, Wilson actually logged 143 at-bats, which falls in line with his thought that he “barely played,” but his batting average was below .200, so that would explain why he didn’t get as many chances as he’d like. However, he went on to get a career-high 98 at-bats in his junior season in question.
Wilson’s claim that he was held out of that game because it was late in the season and he was draft-eligible is also misleading. The UC | Irvine contest was just the fifth of the season.
He went on to explain that he sat around in that game waiting for the opportunity to play, which he says didn’t come until the Wolfpack was down to its final out and the game was tied in extra innings. Wilson said he hit the game-winning home run, which records show was true.
“Everyone in the stands that day, they saw the game-winning home run. But they probably didn’t notice the guy who spent all those innings on the edge of the dugout with a helmet on his head and a bat in his hand. But if I hadn’t stayed prepared like that for 10 or 11 innings, that home run, that never would have happened.”
Again, Wilson’s recollection of that game were incorrect, as the box score shows two at-bats for the future Badger. But what really upset former NC State teammates was his illustration of his dismissal from the football team.
That’s what brought me to University of Wisconsin. The summer before my senior year of college, I’m playing minor league baseball. I call my football coach at N.C. State and say, “Hey Coach, I’d like to come back for my senior year.”
And he told me I wasn’t coming back. He said: “Listen son, you’re never going to play in the National Football League. You’re too small. There’s no chance. You got no shot, give it up.”
I said, “So you’re telling me if I come back to N.C. State, I won’t see the field?” He said, “No, son, you won’t see the field.”
Former NC State offensive guard Kalani Heppe took to Twitter to voice his opinion on Wilson’s rendition of his split with coach Tom O’Brien and the football program.