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Russell Wilson: 'NC State Was Everything to Me'

Former NC State quarterback Russell Wilson delivered an uplifting virtual commencement address to 2020 graduates while at the same time, settling the debate over his true alma mater by professing his love for the Wolfpack

NC State didn't have a formal graduation ceremony this year because of the coronavirus crisis and as such, there was no commencement speaker. 

So to help fill the void, former Wolfpack quarterback Russell Wilson stepped in and provided an uplifting video message to the Class of 2020 on Friday as part of a virtual graduation ceremony.

In the process, he may also have finally settled the debate over which of his alma maters he should be most closely identified.

"NC State was the place for me," the Seattle Seahawks star said. "God put me there. I got to go there. I played football and baseball and have an amazing time. But I also got my education there."

Wilson played three seasons for the Wolfpack, throwing for 8.545 yards,m rushing for nearly 1,100 more and accounting for 93 touchdowns during a standout career capped by a nine-win season and Champs Sports Bowl victory in 2010.

But despite those accomplishments and the fact that he graduated from State with a degree in communications, there are those that associate him with Wisconsin -- the school at which he played his final season as a graduate transfer.

SI.com even left Wilson off State's list when compiling rankings for its recent Quarterback U feature. But in his virtual comments to graduates Friday, the 2014 Super Bowl champion left little doubt as to where his heart resides.

"You guys mean the world to me because that's where everything started for me, at NC State," he said. "I can remember being a junior and senior in high school during visits to Raleigh, being seen by Elliott (Avent) for baseball, getting to be on the practice fields and that journey and ride to Carter-Finley Stadium. All the different things I got to do. It was a true joy. I'll forever wear red and white because of you all."

Here are some other excerpts from Wilson's message to 2020 graduates:

"First of all I'd like to say congratulations to everybody. It's a true honor to be able to graduate from an amazing university like NC State. It's a true gift what you guys and girls have been able to do, to be able to go on this journey of sports. 

"Some of you may go professional, some of you obviously may not. But the relality is that this is just the beginning. What I want to talk to you guys about is just the beginning, because the beginning is the place you either find solace in, you can look forward to or you can also fear. 

"What I would say to you is that in my life and from other people I've gotten to know over time, you can never fear the beginning. You can only look forward to it."

"I remember working my tail off every day, because I made a promise to my dad that I would graduate in three years. When I ended up leaving NC State, well, not leaving. But when I had to transition out, that whole process, I realized I was in this place right now, it was just the beginning. And I couldn't have had a new beginning without NC State, because NC State was everything to me."

"I'll give you guys three things. I'm a big believer in the number three, obviously. The first thing is love big, because the reality is that when you love big ... it's not just loving people, it's loving what you get to do. Whatever you do in life, make sure you love it really, really big because at the end of the day you've got to be passionate about who you surround yourself with and what you're doing. If you can do that and wake up with that love for who you're around, the friends your around, the person your with, whoever it may be, but also the thing you get to do, there's nothing more gratifying than that. So love really, really big.

"The second thing I would give you guys is serve really big. Serving big is super important because I think God put us on this Earth to serve. He put us on this Earth to impact and change, and all of our influences are going to be different. My circumference of influence may be this and somebody else's may be different. But the reality is that we all influence someone. Everybody (which whom) we interact, there'a an opportunity to serve and change and impact. So what I would say to you guys is you've got to serve really big. 

"And the last thing I would say to you guys is to forgive big. There's going to be times in life where things aren't going to be perfect. There are going to be things at life that 'aw shoot, I wish I'd have done that differently' -- not just forgiving somebody else big, but also forgiving yourself big because the next best moment is the next one. So you have to take advantage of that."

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