Wolfpack’s Russell Wilson just one of ACC’s dual-sport football players
The Fayetteville Observer
Russell Wilson is most well known as the quarterback for N.C.
State’s football team.
But every spring and summer, Wilson swaps his shoulder pads and
mouthpiece for a glove and bat.
Wilson is one of several high-profile Atlantic Coast Conference football players who also excel at
Clemson’s football roster
features quarterback Kyle Parker, who doubles as an outfielder on the baseball
team. Receiver Jacoby Ford is the defending NCAA champion in the indoor 60-yard
dash, while running back C.J. Spiller was 13th nationally last year in the
Miami wide receivers Travis Benjamin and Davon Johnson, along with
cornerback Brandon Harris competed in track last season for the Hurricanes.
Junior defensive back Corey Nelms is the defending ACC indoor 60-meter hurdle champion and was runner-up
in the 110-meter hurdles outdoors.
All those players are attending school on football scholarships. But ACC football coaches say they don’t mind sharing their
athletes with other teams, as long as the player keeps his grades up.
“I’ve had a number of football players who have run track, and I just tell
them they have to keep their GPA (grade point average) over 2.5,” Maryland’s
Ralph Friedgen said. “Plus, with running track, it does add some confidence to
them because they’re running against talented people. So I don’t have a problem
Duke coach David Cutcliffe has dealt with numerous dual-sport football players during his career. Most
notable among those were Olympic sprinter/hurdler Willie Gault and major league
baseball player Todd Helton.
Gault played wide receiver at Tennessee while Cutcliffe was offensive
coordinator, while Helton was a quarterback for the Volunteers.
Can’t pick just one
“I’ve had numerous football-track athletes, and numerous football-baseball athletes, and they’ve
been very successful,” Cutcliffe said. “I used to love to play all sports
myself. I would have hated it if someone made me pick one in high school.”
Most players who want to try two sports in college make that part of the
deal when they’re being recruited.
Wilson made that clear to former N.C. State head coach Chuck Amato when
he was being recruited out of Collegiate High in Richmond, Va. Current Wolfpack
head coach Tom O’Brien has lived up to that promise, allowing Wilson to split
time between football and baseball
during the spring.
“We’ve certainly had to make some concessions,” O’Brien said. “But that’s
a promise that was made to Russell when he was recruited and we’re going to keep
it. It really hasn’t been that much of an issue.”
Selected by Orioles
Wilson, who was named the ACC’s first-team quarterback as a redshirt freshman in
2008, hit .236 with the baseball team last spring after returning from a knee
injury. He’s on schedule to receive his degree from N.C. State in May and will
be eligible for the major league baseball draft as well.
The Baltimore Orioles selected Wilson in the 41st round of the 2006
baseball draft out of high school. With a solid junior year at N.C. State, he
could go much higher next June.
But even then Wilson may not be willing to give up both sports.
“My dream is to play football and baseball in the pros, and be a hall of
famer in both,” he said recently.