ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson is well known to plenty of football fans and players around the league.
But aside from his Seahawks teammates, running back Montee Ball and linebacker Nate Irving know him better than most.
Ball and Irving each played college football with Wilson, albeit with different teams.
Irving spent three seasons (2008-10) with Wilson at North Carolina State and Ball played one season with Wilson (2011) at Wisconsin.
"Back when he was with me at Wisconsin, he displayed great qualities of a quarterback," Ball recalled. "And I'm sure he's doing the same thing over there."
Irving, who practiced against Wilson during their time together with the Wolfpack, noted that despite some critics' concern regarding Wilson's height, he knew the quarterback could excel at the next level.
"It's about making plays," Irving said. "There are going to be different guys in there with different heights, different sizes, but he made a lot of plays in college and that is what the game is about – making plays."
That's a sentiment that Ball echoed.
"I'm not surprised," Ball said. "He's had that mindset his whole life."
Both players remembered Wilson being extremely focused during their times as teammates.
"He was just a robot," Ball said. "He was straight to business. He would joke around and stuff like that but he was really focused. You could see that – everyone could see that."
"He was at home, studying, at the facility looking at film or things like that," Irving added. "He was always in the book."
While both spoke fondly of Wilson, Ball said that they haven't talked since the season started as each was focused on his own team.
"Once the season started no texting, none of that," Ball said. "But beforehand, yeah – just because of the great relationship he had in college. At times I would ask him – once he took off – I'd ask him how the NFL was and all that stuff. Right now, he's the enemy."