Until this offseason, the last time Russell Wilson moved to a new team without the mechanism of the NFL Draft, he transferred from NC State to Wisconsin to finish his time in college.
And yet, coming in as a senior after three years at a different school, Wilson's transition was practically seamless, as former Badgers head coach Bret Bielema and former Badgers safety Aaron Henry told The Gazette’s George Stoia recently.
On the field, Wilson was an immediate sensation. He threw for 33 touchdowns, four interceptions and 3,175 yards as he led Wisconsin to victory in the Big Ten Championship and an appearance in the Rose Bowl.
"I think he sort of transcended the quarterback position at Wisconsin," Henry said. "I think that what was magical was that he was a perfect fit for what we were looking for and for what he needed. We needed a quarterback, right? And he wanted to be a part of a really good offense, right? And the marriage was a match made in heaven."
But equal to his impact as a quarterback was his impact as a leader, as he also became a team captain for his lone season in Madison.
"He'll set the standard and the expectation that no one else can match," Bielema told Stoia. "He'll prepare, practice, rehearse and put himself in a position that when it comes time to compete at the highest level of competition, he'll be the standard for what everybody else has to be at. I know that's what he did in college, I know he did that in Seattle and I know he'll do it in Denver."
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When linebacker Josey Jewell suffered a season-ending pectoral injury just two weeks into the 2021 season, he could have looked at it as a lost season. But instead, as The Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran writes, he was able to take that recovery time to learn and also help teach.
"I learned a lot from standing by and watching, from going to the meetings, from watching other guys on film and picking some stuff up from other people's craft and (now) trying to implement it to my own game," Jewell told O'Halloran.
After Jewell's injury, the Broncos also lost starter Alexander Johnson for the season, and the team relied on its depth and youth to fill in. Jewell was able to share knowledge when possible to help the team.
"I wasn't going to sit and not enjoy the game or be mad about it," Jewell told O'Halloran. "I wanted to help the team and help the linebackers and younger guys and see some wins.
"I had a new hunger for the game and understood how much love and how much passion I have for the game. I'm really ready to get this year started off right."