RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -Quarterback Russell Wilson has been called a possible U.S. president - or, at the very least, a governor or mayor - by coach Tom O'Brien. For now, the North Carolina State redshirt freshman will settle for simply leading the Wolfpack to another victory.
``I've always wanted to be a leader. I've always wanted to push other people,'' Wilson said Monday. ``I've always wanted to be the guy (who is relied upon) where a situation's going wrong. No matter what the situation is, I trust myself and I trust my teammates at the same time, and hopefully they trust me. I've always wanted to win the games. I've always wanted to have the ball in my hands when things are going wrong or the time is needed.''
nce play.
The good news for the Wolfpack: he remains at full strength and is preparing for his career-best third straight start this week at Maryland. They know keeping him healthy and playing goes a long way toward generating those badly needed victories.
The team's worst two performances of the season came come when its young, mobile quarterback missed significant stretches, while the biggest victory came during his first home start - a performance in which he played through an injury that nobody watching knew about until two days later.
He has thrown only one interception in 115 passes, has gone three games without a pick and would rank second in the ACC in pass efficiency if he hadn't missed nearly two full games with injuries.
O'Brien ``wants us to protect the football, but at the same time, he wants me to make the big-time throws,'' Wilson said. ``I'm going to throw it. I'm not scared to throw it into coverage or anything like that. I think that's mainly just being patient and knowing what I'm looking for and knowing where I'm going with the ball.''
One of the big reasons why N.C. State has put together its first consecutive turnover-free games since 2002 is because of the quarterback with a beyond-his-years knack for leadership.
en said recently. ``He just exudes confidence. Anywhere you're with him, he goes up, he introduces himself to everybody, and he's Russell Wilson. He's always so positive in everything he does. I think he certainly could be mayor. Maybe governor. Maybe president.''
He certainly is becoming more confident throwing the deep ball to speedy receiver Owen Spencer. They've hooked up for touchdowns covering 61 and 67 yards in the past two games, both league losses.
``That's on the quarterback, and that's something that we've worked hard with Russell and all the quarterbacks. ... In those situations, you've got a guy like (Spencer) that can run,'' O'Brien said. ``Just get it out there and let them go get it.''
At the very least, N.C. State keeps games tighter with Wilson.
O'Brien's team has dropped games to Boston College and Florida State by an average of eight points - a drastic improvement after the Wilson-less Wolfpack were routed 41-10 at home by then-No. 13 South Florida.
He missed that game with an undisclosed injury sustained during the overtime upset of then-No. 15 East Carolina. He previously left the opener at South Carolina with a concussion and N.C. State went on to lose 34-0.
``The offense has definitely grown a lot,'' Wilson said. ``The more you get out there and experience, for me personally, being out there and making plays when I need to, making throws when I need to, it definitely helps the whole offense in general, and I believe the offense is taking major steps from the beginning of the season. You can see it if you watch the end of the first game compared to (the Florida State) game.''

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