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Wilson is his father's son
Ask anyone from coach Pete Carroll to wide receiver Golden Tate how rookie Russell Wilson has been able to win the Seahawks’ starting quarterback job and the conversation either starts with or quickly gets to his work ethic.
First to arrive. Last to leave. Attention to every possible detail. That’s Wilson.
But where does that work ethic come from? His late father, Harrison Wilson III, who died in 2010 of complications from diabetes.
“My dad used to wake me early in the morning – 5:30 in the morning, 6 o’clock in the morning,” Wilson said Monday after his first practice as the starter – not only for Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Oakland Raiders at CenturyLink Field, but also the Sept. 9 regular-season opener against the Cardinals in Arizona.
“We used to throw speed outs and everything. That dedication, I think, started at a young age and it’s never changed and it won’t waver.”
Waver? It’s difficult to budge a work ethic that is cemented in those kinds of roots. This is why Wilson is the way he is – dedicated to his craft and almost demented in his approach.
“This is an extremely competitive person, and it drives him in the way he prepares,” Carroll said, less than 24 hours after he has announced that Wilson had indeed won the starting job. “He tirelessly works at it. He worked at it throughout the summer time. He’s the last guy to get out of the building. He has done everything he could possibly do to get ready.
“You tack all of that along with his marvelous natural football intelligence that he has. He has great savvy for the game. There are a lot of things that he does that you can’t coach.”
There also are a lot of things Wilson does that also impress his teammates – his older teammates. Again, starting with that father-infused work ethic.
“Everything he does is just like, ‘Wow,’ ” Tate said. “He’s just one of those guys. He’s a special player, a special person. Just his work ethic.
“Even in the offseason, when we had those five weeks off, he was still in here at 6, 7 o’clock in the morning studying film, then working out, then throwing. He’s a professional. And as a young guy that’s something that we all struggle with – how to be a professional.”
Not Wilson. He is mature beyond his years.
“He’s ready for the spotlight,” Tate said.
Credit Wilson’s father for all the work he put in all those years ago in Richmond, Va. After playing baseball and football at Dartmouth, Harrison Wilson III made it to the final cut with the San Diego Chargers in 1980 – playing that summer with the father of tight end Kellen Winslow, now Russell Wilson’s teammate with the Seahawks. Kellen Winslow’s father went on to have a Hall of Fame career, while Russell Wilson’s father became a lawyer.
And Harrison Wilson III would lay down the law to his sons when it came to academics as well as athletics – Russell as well as his brother, Harrison Wilson IV, who played football and baseball at Richmond.
“Russell knows how to set goals and also set a path for attaining them,” Harrison Wilson IV told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last August. “For example, he knew he wanted to graduate in 3½ years before he stepped on campus. So he took loads of credits that a lot of undergraduates probably wouldn’t take. And that was while playing both sports (football and baseball).
“He wasn’t going to let anybody tell him differently. He wasn’t going to let anybody keep him from doing it.”
Obviously, some things never change.
Asked how he would alter his approach now that he’s officially the starting quarterback, Wilson offered, “If anything, I just try to prepare that much more – do anything I can. I’ve always felt like I’ve been doing that. But every little detail that I can possibly grow on and improve on is where I’ll be.”
There might also be a little divine intervention in this short-guy-makes-good tale.
“I always have high expectations,” Wilson said. “I believe God put me on this earth for a reason. Me being a shorter quarterback, I believe that I’m playing for a lot of other kids in the future. That’s part of my motivation.”