1 decision spawns 2 NFL careers

When Russell Wilson left N.C. State to quarterback Wisconsin, Tampa Bay’s Mike Glennon stepped in to fill the void for Wolfpack

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.comNovember 1, 2013 

Tampa Bay’s Mike Glennon (8) has thrown more passes in his first four career starts – 181 for the winless Buccaneers – than any previous NFL quarterback.


RENTON — April 27, 2011. It was a Tuesday. North Carolina State coach Tom O’Brien told quarterback Russell Wilson, who had graduated early, his services were no longer needed by the Wolfpack.

A large part of the reason for O’Brien’s decision will be standing on the field with Wilson again Sunday.

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to Seattle for Sunday’s game against the Seahawks, starting quarterback Mike Glennon will be in tow. He replaced Wilson at N.C. State when O’Brien made the decision that Wilson was no longer wanted, in part because of Wilson’s baseball commitments.

Having a skilled backup in Glennon – who also possesses a more standard frame for a quarterback – being 7 inches taller than Wilson – helped in the decision.

Wilson was runner-up for ACC Player of the Year. O’Brien

was concerned that Wilson was more concerned about the professional baseball contract he had already signed.

So, O’Brien let a future NFL starter go and replaced him with another.

Before O’Brien split them, Glennon and Wilson were a bit of an odd couple. Wilson compared Glennon to a “giraffe” Thursday, taking a good-natured shot at his much taller former traveling roommate.

“It was definitely a unique situation – a player of his caliber,” Glennon said. “He was a great teammate, but it worked out for both of us. He went on to have a great year at Wisconsin, led them to the Rose Bowl. And then obviously, what he did as (an NFL) rookie and is doing right now.

“For me, it gave me an opportunity to start for two years at N.C. State and then put myself in a situation to get drafted. We’ve been nothing but supportive of one another through all that. We stay in touch with one another. I was happy for him and all his accomplishments, and I think he feels the same way about me.”

The move altered Wilson’s life. Because he graduated early, the NCAA couldn’t keep him from playing immediately that fall. Only N.C. State could restrict his movement by keeping him out of the ACC and away from any team it would play that season.

Wilson said he heard from schools in the Southeastern, Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences – Washington was not among them, the best he could recall.

He narrowed his choices to Auburn and Wisconsin. After visiting the Badgers, he decided Madison would be the proper landing place.

“I just trusted my instincts,” Wilson said about the decision process.

He led Wisconsin to a Big Ten title game win and to the Rose Bowl. He finished ninth in Heisman Trophy balloting.

One other thing going to Wisconsin did for Wilson: It put him behind a big offensive line, enabling him to prove he could play behind taller guys and be effective in the pocket.

Three of Wisconsin’s starters on the offensive line – ranging from 6-foot-4 to 6-7 – went on to the NFL.

Glennon played well enough in Wilson’s place, and the year after that he was drafted in the third round by the Bucs.

After Tampa Bay discarded disgruntled starter Josh Freeman earlier this season, Glennon took over. In his first four starts, he has thrown more times than any previous NFL quarterback in his first four starts.

Glennon has 181 passing attempts already. Wilson has 205 attempts in twice as many games.

A new competition between the two will start Sunday.


Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said on Sirius XM radio Thursday that wide receiver Percy Harvin will not play this week. … Running back Marshawn Lynch (knee) did not participate in practice Thursday for the second consecutive day.

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @Todd_Dybas

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