MADISON -- A day after a number of Wisconsin Badgers greats gathered on the LaBahn Arena ice for the Blake Geoffrion Hockey Classic, another former UW A-lister took the field at Camp Randall.
Making his third annual stop in Madison for his passing academy, former Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson spoke highly of his time in the city he briefly called home in 2011, Badgers head coach Paul Chryst and impacting youth’s lives through the camp.
"I was only here for six months," Wilson said. "I was here from July 1 to Jan. 1, but it felt like I was here for six years. I really love this school, the education here, the football program. I love everything about it."
Wilson, who transferred to Wisconsin before his senior season in 2011, led the Badgers to a 10-2 regular-season record, Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl berth. That success has continued as the starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. In just three seasons, Wilson has gone 36-12 with two Super Bowl appearances and one championship.
Back in Madison once again, Wilson wasn’t short of any praises for the university. As he ran onto the field to begin the camp, the first words he uttered upon grabbing the megaphone?
"Welcome to the University of Wisconsin, one of the best places in America."
Equally important to Wilson is impacting the lives of youth, which is his primary goal through the academy.
"If we can change one kid’s life, the mission is accomplished," Wilson said. "Because that one kid could change a generation, could change a culture. That’s the idea."
The event, which drew about 250 kids, now is in six cities in its third year.
"It’s all about the kids," Wilson said. "It’s about teaching great fundamentals. It’s about teaching them about life and the ups and downs and all that. God’s given me amazing opportunities to inspire a lot of people."
Only .008 percent of all high school football athletes get drafted into the NFL. If any of the kids on the field Saturday make it to the NFL, they will be lucky—and Wilson understands that.
"It’s one of those things where it’s not just about making it in football," he said. "Dreams come true when you capitalize on the opportunity."
Wilson also sang the praise of Chryst, who was his offensive coordinator at Wisconsin in 2011.
"I love Paul Chryst," he said. "He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. He’s a phenomenal coach. Coach Paul Chryst is going to do a great job."
While in Madison, Wilson also made sure to spend time with and learn from another successful Wisconsin coach.
"I got to chat up with Bo Ryan yesterday for a long time and just spend time with him and his beautiful wife, that was cool," Wilson said. "They’re great people, and that’s why I came here. I came here for the people, I came here for the atmosphere, I came here for the football, and also most importantly I came here for the education.
All those reasons Wilson announced his transfer to Wisconsin four years ago to the day were at play again in his return to Madison. And, as if he hadn’t made it his love for the university clear enough, he parted with one last comment after thanking the media.
You can listen to Wilson's full media session below. The video above is also courtesy of Madison.com.