Russell Wilson's commencement speech Saturday at the University of Wisconsin wasn't greeted as warmly by some at his first school, North Carolina State.
While Seahawk quarterback Russell Wilson’s commencement speech Saturday at the University of Wisconsin drew the expected enthusiastic response from its intended audience, it’s been met with some tilted eyebrows from some at his first school, North Carolina State.
The theme of Wilson’s speech was persevering “when life tells you no.”
As examples, Wilson recounted a couple of experiences at North Carolina State, including stating that then-Wolfpack head football coach Tom O’Brien told him “you’re never going to play in the National Football League” in explaining why he was telling Wilson that he was not welcome back to the team for his senior season in 2011, a development that led to Wilson spending his final year of college at Wisconsin.
Wilson further stated that O’Brien said: “You’re too small. There’s no chance. You’ve got no shot. Give it up.’ Of course, I’m on this side of the phone saying, ‘So you’re telling me I’m not coming back to NC State? I won’t see the field?’ He said, ‘No son, you won’t see the field.’”
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The Charlotte Observer’s recounting of the speech Sunday referred to Wilson as “ripping open old wounds” while a few national outlets such as The Big Lead also picked up on Wilson’s apparent jabs at his former school.
O’Brien’s side of Wilson’s departure from NC State has been that he had concerns about Wilson’s commitment to football since Wilson was spending much of his off-season playing professional baseball, and wanted him to commit to playing football only. O’Brien was also worried that backup Mike Glennon, who had one more year of eligibility than Wilson, might transfer if Wilson came back for another season, and decided he needed to make a decision to solidify the QB position heading into the off-season (O’Brien recounted much of this in 2013 in a conference call with reporters prior to a Seattle-Tampa Bay game which featured both Wilson and Glennon).
There are, of course, always two sides (at least) to every story, and to most Seahawks’ fans all that likely matters is that Wilson finally arrived in town as the franchise-level quarterback the team had been seeking regardless of the route he took to get here.
Wilson, though, appeared to be playing a little damage control on social media earlier Sunday to soothe over any inflamed feelings at NC State.