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Wilson returning to North Carolina

Posted Oct 4, 2012

It's fair to say Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is familiar with the state of North Carolina and its professional football team.

"I'm from the east coast and I played at N.C. State so I know a lot about the Carolina Panthers," Wilson said in a conference call.

The Panthers know quite a bit about him too.

"I've been a fan of Russell ever since he was at North Carolina State, and obviously the things he's done at Wisconsin, taking that team to the Rose Bowl." quarterback Cam Newton said. "It's just been amazing to watch."

To quickly review Wilson's remarkable journey, the former N.C State quarterback and baseball player gave up the latter to focus on a career in football. He transferred to Wisconsin and led the Badgers to a Big Ten title and Rose Bowl appearance, and a few months later, he was interviewing with NFL teams prior to the NFL draft.

Carolina was one of those teams.

"Yes, he was somebody that we looked at," Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said. "He got picked where we thought he would. We thought he would get picked in the first few rounds. We did like him.

"He's a versatile quarterback. He's very athletic, got a strong arm and makes quick decisions."

Wilson was selected in the third round (75th overall) by the Seahawks and was instantly immersed in a heated quarterback competition with incumbent starter Tarvaris Jackson and offseason free-agent signing Matt Flynn.

When the regular season opened, it was Wilson who was starting for Seattle under center.

"Through the preseason he just had so much production and made so many things happen to go along with remarkable character and his habits and smarts and all that," Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said in a conference call. "He just won the job."

The Seahawks will fly across the country to play the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday. It'll be a homecoming of sorts for Wilson, who in addition to his three years at N.C. State, played baseball for the Gastonia Grizzlies of the Coastal Plain League in 2009 and for the Asheville Tourists of the South Atlantic League in 2011.

"I came over (to Bank of America Stadium) once," Wilson said. "I've never been to an actual game there; I just went over to see the stadium."

His second stop at Bank of America Stadium will be the scene of his fifth NFL start. Wilson -- who is from Richmond, Virginia -- said he knows of about 50 family members and friends who have requested tickets to see him play against the Panthers.

"I'm sure there are a lot more that I don't even know of," he added.

But Wilson is pushing ticket arrangements and homecoming emotions to the side as he prepares for Week 5.

"I don't want the emotion of coming back home or anything like that to affect me at all," Wilson said. "I'm just going to go out there and play ball."

The Panthers will be ready and waiting on Sunday.

"It's going to be great coming back to Carolina and playing there playing against the Panthers," Wilson said. "It's going to be a great game, a great battle, a great showdown. Two great teams going after it."