Russell Wilson on the bench for the Asheville Tourists. ETHAN HYMAN - email@example.com
RALEIGH – There will be no quarterback controversy at N.C. State in the fall.
Junior Mike Glennon’s status as the Wolfpack’s starter was cemented at 5 p.m. Friday when coach Tom O’Brien issued a stunning announcement that Russell Wilson has been granted his release to play football for another school in 2011 if he so chooses.
According to the terms of the release, Wilson cannot transfer to another ACC school or a school on N.C. State’s schedule.
Wilson, a three-year starter who ranks second in ACC history in touchdown responsibility with 93 scores, is playing professional baseball for the Asheville Tourists and did not participate in spring practice.
"Russell and I have had very open conversations about his responsibilities respective to baseball and football,” coach Tom O’Brien said in a statement released by the school. “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 N.C. 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."
Last season, Wilson played pro baseball and came back to N.C. State at the beginning of fall camp. He went on to earn second-team All-ACC honors and help the Wolfpack earn a 9-4 record and a Champs Sports Bowl win over West Virginia.
Wilsonwas playing baseball for the Tourists in Rome, Ga., on Friday evening. Efforts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.
N.C.State released a statement attributed to Wilson.
“Although I remain 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,” the statement read. “It has become apparent that the time has come for the program to move on without me.”
The statement expressed gratitude to N.C. State and its fans. It said Wilson has not closed the door on pro football and plans to explore and consider all his options.
Wilsonhas often said it is his dream to play major league baseball and NFL football. Last season, he posted 3,998 yards of total offense, the fourth-highest single-season total in ACC history.
Friday’s announcement was the culmination of a slow widening of a gap between O’Brien and Wilson. In February, O’Brien said N.C. State was moving on without Wilson, but said the door was open to his return.
During spring practice, O’Brien said that if Wilson returned, it would be in a backup position. At the Wolfpack Club booster caravan stop Thursday night in Raleigh, O’Brien compared Glennon to Matt Ryan, Tim Hasselbeck and Matt Hasselbeck, who played for O’Brien at Boston College and went on to become NFL starters.
Where Wilson at 5-foot-11 was known for his ability to scramble as well as throw, Glennon is 6-foot-6 and a classic dropback passer similar to those NFL quarterbacks.
“I think he looked at this spring as an opportunity to take hold of the position and take the job,” O’Brien said. “And that’s what he did.”
O’Brien praised Wilson for his contributions to N.C. State, but also seemed to be shutting the door on him.
“He [Wilson] had a choice to make, and we had a choice to make,” O’Brien said. “Mike Glennon made my choice a heck of a lot easier.”