RALEIGH, N.C.- Director of Athletics Deborah A. Yow and head football coach Dave Doeren announced Thursday that the NC State Athletics Department will commemorate the careers of standout players Russell Wilson and Mario Williams by honoring their jerseys. Wilson will be honored during the 2014 Kay Yow Spring Football Game on April 12, while Williams will return to a home regular season game at a later date as his schedule allows.
"This is truly an amazing honor and I am looking forward to being back in Raleigh and Carter-Finley Stadium," said Wilson, who led the Seattle Seahawks to victory in Super Bowl XLVIII. "My experience at NC State was an amazing one playing football and baseball but also accomplishing my goal of graduating in three years. My memories of playing as the quarterback for the Wolfpack are never ending and the roar of the Wolfpack Nation still rings in my ear from memorable wins against FSU and UNC!"
"I learned the value of great leadership, ultimate sacrifice, and the relentless belief that hard work pays off. I am grateful for all of my amazing teammates and players past, present, and future. I can still taste and sense the blood, sweat, and tears we all sacrificed to be successful."
Wilson's No. 16 and Williams' No. 9 will continue to be worn by standout Wolfpack players. In the future, any player designated by the head coach to wear those numbers will also wear a patch honoring Wilson or Williams.
These two players had outstanding careers for the Wolfpack and have gone on to do great things in the National Football League, said Doeren. We, along with our passionate Wolfpack fans, are so proud of them and their accomplishments and wanted to permanently honor them by adding their names to the State greats on display inside Carter-Finley Stadium.
The recognition patch is an even more visible way to honor their contributions, because every time a player wearing those numbers steps on the field, he will carry their name on his uniform," Doeren continued.
Williams, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, said, "I am very appreciative that NC State has decided to honor me and it will be very special to see my name in Carter-Finley Stadium. It's a special place and I will always call it home."
Doeren also announced that two of the Wolfpacks other three former players who competed along with Wilson in Super Bowl XLVIII will return for the spring game. Nate Irving, who started at linebacker for the Denver Broncos, and J.R. Sweezy, a starting offensive guard for Seattle, will be on hand for all of the day's activities and will be recognized on the field. Former Wolfpack kicker Steven Hauschka, also a starter for Seattle, had a previous commitment and will not be able to attend.
Banners honoring Wilson and Williams will hang beside those of other Wolfpack legends on the facade of Carter-Finley Stadium. Those players include QB Roman Gabriel, OL Jim Ritcher, HB Dick Christy, RB Ted Brown, WR Torry Holt, DE Dennis Byrd, OG Bill Yoest and QB Philip Rivers.
Wilson was the first quarterback in league history to earn first-team All-ACC honors as a freshman and also won the ACC Rookie of the Year award in 2008. He was a two-time Academic All-ACC performer and set an NCAA record for consecutive pass attempts without an interception with 379. He ranks in the top three in NC State career history in passing yards, pass completions, pass attempts, passing touchdowns, 300-yard passing games, total offense and touchdown responsibility.
A third-round draft pick of Seattle in the 2012 NFL draft, he led the Seahawks to victory over Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII. He holds the NFL record for most victories by a quarterback in his first two seasons with 28 and has been a Pro Bowl selection each of his first two seasons in the league.
Williams is the only player in ACC history to be selected as the first pick in the NFL draft, as he was taken as No. 1 by the Houston Texans in 2006. He was named a first-team All-American by Sports Illustrated in 2005 and was a second-team choice by Walter Camp after setting the State single-season tackles for loss (27.5) and sacks (14.5) records. A two-time All-ACC performer, he also holds the school career records in both categories.
Williams has recorded 76.5 career sacks in his NFL career. Now with the Buffalo Bills, he set a franchise record with 4.5 sacks in a single game.
The annual Kay Yow Spring Game will kick off at 1 p.m. but will include a host of activities for Wolfpack fans prior to game time. On Friday night, fans can take part in Kickin at the Carter which marks the start of the annual BBQ Bowl competition and will include live entertainment and music for all ages as well as the Junior Wolfpack Club Fun Zone. Friday night's activities are scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m.
On Saturday, the BBQ Bowl judging will be held along with more live music and activities for kids beginning at 8:30 a.m. At 10:45 a.m., former Pack players will compete in the first annual Alumni Flag Football game on the Day Family Field.
As always, admission will be free with an encouraged minimum donation of $1 per person to benefit the Kay Yow Cancer Fund and the Kay Yow Scholarship Endowment.