MADISON––It doesn’t appear as if it was coincidence that former Packers quarterback Brett Favre and Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson joined the social media platform of Twitter at roughly the same time just days ago.
Wilson, who performed in front of NFL scouts at the University of Wisconsin’s pro day on Wednesday, acknowledged he was being represented by agent Bus Cook who was Favre’s agent as well.
Favre sent Wilson a message of encouragement on March 3, to which Wilson responded, but the former Badger says he’s never actually spoken to the Ol’ Gunslinger.
“I never talked to Favre,” said Wilson. “He tweeted me the other day, but I never talked to him before. Obviously I watched him play a lot, he’s Brett Favre. Hopefully I’ll meet him at some point. I don’t know when I would, but we’ll see.”
Wilson said he chose Cook because of his experience working with other NFL quarterbacks. In addition to representing Favre, Cook is currently the agent for the Bears’ Jay Cutler and the Panthers’ Cam Newton.
“I wanted a guy that had several quarterbacks in the past and a person that was personable, a guy that you can call on the phone if you need to,” said Wilson of Cook. “I didn’t want to have a huge, huge agency or anything like that. Bus had called me at one point. I’m glad I went with him. He’s a great guy.”
Picking an agent is just part of the process of getting ready for professional football for Wilson, however.
At Wisconsin’s pro day, it was all about showing off his throwing mechanics in an attempt to impress NFL decision makers, which included Packers general manager Ted Thompson.
Wilson didn’t participate in the 40-yard dash or any of the measured drills, instead choosing to stand on his performance at the NFL Combine in February. He did throw for about 30 minutes in front of scouts, though.
“The Combine is a little bit different because you’re only throwing about five different type of routes,” explained Wilson. “Here, I threw everything. Everything I could possibly throw in the NFL.”
Wilson estimated that he completed 60 of 63 passes thrown to a receiving corps that included wide receiver Nick Toon and fullback Bradie Ewing, two other Badgers seniors that are eligible for the NFL Draft in April.
In order to prepare for the NFL, Wilson has been working out at IMG Academy in Florida with former NFL quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke.
Coincidentally, both Weinke and Wilson pursued careers in professional baseball before turning to football.
Weinke spent six seasons in the farm system of the Toronto Blue Jays from 1991 to 1996 before enrolling at Florida State at 26 years old. After college, he then spent seven seasons in the NFL from 2001 to 2007 with the Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers.
Similarly, Wilson played minor league baseball in the farm system of Colorado Rockies in the summers of 2010 and 2011 before transferring to Wisconsin from North Carolina State and focusing on football for good.
“To be honest with you, we don’t talk about baseball at all,” Wilson said about his relationship with Weinke. “We’re so focused on what I’m doing and focused on playing football, and I think he definitely understands that, respects that.”
The two have been working on Wilson’s footwork the past several weeks and throwing with a good base.
That’s something Wilson said he admires in Saints quarterback Drew Brees whom he watches a lot of film of and attempts to mimic the way Brees moves in the pocket.
Another thing Brees and Wilson have in common is their relatively short stature at the quarterback position. Standing only six feet tall, Brees has overcome his lack of height to achieve at football’s highest level, something Wilson is hoping to mimic.
But Wilson is even shorter than Brees, measuring in at 5-11 on Wednesday. He’s known for being bright, articulate and a leader, but the the fact remains that there just aren’t that many quarterbacks shorter than 6-0 in the NFL, let alone ones who succeed.
Wilson thinks he can do it. He was quick to point out that he only had three passes batted down this past season at Wisconsin.
Badgers head coach Bret Bielema got good feedback from the scouts in Madison.
“A couple of the scouts made reference that after Russell hit two or three of those deep balls, they would have just stopped the workout, no reason to prove anything else,” said Bielema. “But I think he wants to get it out there that he’s a very good accurate passer in all phases.”
Thompson was asked what Wilson has to do to prove he can play in the NFL, and in typical Thompson fashion, he wasn’t entirely forthright. But he did express some optimism in Wilson’s abilities.
“I think you play,” said Thompson. “This is kind of the warm-up stuff. The playing comes after he gets selected by a team, and he’s going to do fine.”