Bielema not surprised Wilson starting for Seahawks

Some people might be surprised that rookie Russell Wilson is the

Seattle Seahawks’ starting quarterback. His college coach isn’t one

of them.

Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said Monday that since Wilson was

drafted by the Seahawks, he has been telling pretty much anybody

who would listen that Wilson would end up winning the starting

job.

”By NCAA rules, I cannot bet – but I bet you I’ve told hundreds

of people since draft day to where we are that he will be the

starter,” Bielema said.

Bielema said he exchanged text messages with Wilson to

congratulate him.

Wilson led the Badgers to a Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl berth

last season after quitting professional baseball and transferring

to Wisconsin. He was eligible to play for the Badgers right away

because he already had graduated from North Carolina State.

Despite his excellent mobility, Wilson wasn’t regarded as a top

pro prospect going into the draft, mainly because of his 5-11

size.

The Seahawks picked Wilson in the third round, and he beat out

former Green Bay Packers backup Matt Flynn – who was expected to

start after signing a big-money free agent deal with the Seahawks

in the offseason.

”I know they paid a lot of money to get Flynn and all that

great stuff,” Bielema said. ”But until you see what Russell

Wilson does behind the scenes – you obviously see what he does on

game days – even if he wasn’t going to be the starter, you’d better

hope that if you were the starter, if you were Flynn or whoever,

that you’d better not roll your ankle one day or have the flu or

miss practice. … He is a relentless, relentless competitor, and

he’s so contagious.”

Bielema said someone sent him a video clip that included footage

of Wilson talking to his new teammates.

”Just to see him kind of engage in that locker room, I walked

out of there, I’m like, `He’s got that locker room wrapped around

his finger right now,”’ Bielema said.

And Bielema said he has seen highlights of Seahawks coach Pete

Carroll interacting with Wilson.

”That head coach likes that player, and you can tell that,”

Bielema said.

With the Badgers preparing for their season opener against

Northern Iowa on Saturday, Bielema announced that cornerback Peniel

Jean broke his foot last week. Jean, a redshirt sophomore who was

being counted on to play a critical role this season, has had

surgery and will miss 4-6 weeks.

”(He’s) A guy that we were counting on, banking on, a guy

that’s done a lot of really good things, so that hurt a little

bit,” Bielema said.