Report: Wilson chooses NFL over baseball
MADISON, Wis. -- Former Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson has notified the Colorado Rockies that he will pursue football this year instead of reporting to spring training, according to multiple reports.
"I want to put all my focus in football and see where it takes me," Wilson told The New York Times. "I know that I have the talent, aptitude and leadership to succeed on the next level."
The decision by Wilson, a fourth-round selection by the Rockies in the 2010 Major League Baseball draft, does not come as a surprise.
Wilson, who has been invited to play in the prestigious Senior Bowl later this month, had a spectacular senior season in leading Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl. He completed 73 percent of his passes and threw for 3,175 yards with 33 touchdowns and four interceptions.
In two minor league seasons with the Tri-City (Wash.) Dust Devils and the Asheville (N.C.) Tourists, both Rockies affiliates, Wilson hit .229 in 315 at-bats while playing second base. His baseball career came to an abrupt end in June when he decided that he wanted to return to college football after playing three seasons at North Carolina State.
The standard number of at-bats required of a player to fully develop into a major leaguer, according to most baseball experts, is roughly 1,500 or three full years.
"Russell was up front with me in the very beginning that he aspired to play in the NFL and play at the major league level," Rockies vice president of scouting Bill Schmidt told FoxSportsWisconsin.com in November. "I knew that was a dream of his. The thing with our game, to try to get those at-bats and get caught up, there's only one way to do it and that's really to play the game. So the vision that we might have had for him, it gets interrupted."
Schmidt suggested in November that Wilson would push his football career as far as it could go before considering a return to baseball.
"He's talked about coming back," Schmidt said, "but my guess is that he'll look to try to get to the NFL Combine and see where it goes from there."
The 2012 NFL Combine, used as a scouting ground for potential players, runs from Feb. 22-28. More than 300 top pro prospects will be invited to participate in Indianapolis. The Senior Bowl and the Combine will be a chance for Wilson to change the perception that his generously listed 5-foot-11 height won't hurt him at the NFL level. He certainly did all he could in his one year at Wisconsin to convince scouts he's a strong-armed, accurate, mobile passer.
"I took a big risk to leave playing baseball and go back and play football, especially at a completely different school," Wilson told The Times. "I couldn't have drawn it up any better. It's been a perfect dream."
Follow Jesse Temple on Twitter.