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Campus Life

Russell Wilson to Address Spring 2021 Grads

Graduates at commencement.
Wuf hand rises from a sea of recent graduates.

For Immediate Release

Russell Wilson, one of the top passers in NC State history and the 2020 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, returns to Carter-Finley Stadium to serve as commencement speaker during NC State’s spring 2021 ceremonies, scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, May 14 and 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 15.

“We are honored to welcome Russell Wilson back to NC State to inspire our spring 2021 graduates at these very special commencement ceremonies,” said Chancellor Randy Woodson. “Russell has always supported his alma mater well and represented NC State with class. We know our students, their families and our entire Wolfpack community will be excited to see Russell back home at Carter-Finley Stadium.”

During Friday’s ceremony, Woodson will confer an honorary degree on alumnus Jeff Williams, chief operating officer at Apple. Woodson will confer an honorary degree on alumna Ashley Christensen, James Beard Award-winning chef, during Saturday’s ceremony. The ceremonies will also include remarks from graduating students and university leaders. Both ceremonies will be streamed live.

Wilson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication from NC State in 2010. While at NC State, he was a two-time Academic All-ACC selection and was named ACC Rookie of the Year and team MVP in 2008. He ranks fourth in career passing yards (8,545), second in passing touchdowns (76), sixth in completion percentage (.578), third in 300-yard games (12), second in rushing by a quarterback (1,083 yards), and fourth in total offense (9,628 yards). He also set an NCAA record for career pass attempts without an interception with 379. His NC State teams advanced to two bowl games in his three years of competition. His jersey was honored at NC State in 2014.

A third-round draft choice of the Seattle Seahawks, Wilson has started every game since he joined the NFL in 2012, a total of 144 regular-season games and 16 playoff games. He led Seattle to the playoffs in eight of his nine seasons, including a pair of Super Bowls, and won Super Bowl XLVIII. An eight-time Pro Bowl selection, Wilson led the NFL in passer rating in 2015 (110.0) and in passing touchdowns in 2017 (34). He tied the NFL record for most passing TDs by a rookie (26), and was named the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year in 2012. Wilson holds the second highest NFL career passer rating of all-time (100.3). He also played at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for one year after graduating from NC State.

Off the field, Wilson is an active volunteer in Seattle. In 2014 he founded the Why Not You Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to motivating and empowering today’s youth. He recently partnered with Feeding America to help raise awareness and funds that supplied more than 10 million meals to help those in need during the pandemic. Wilson also volunteers with Seattle Children’s Hospital and Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He received the 2020 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award to honor his volunteer and charity work as well as his on-the-field accomplishments.

Wilson and his wife, Grammy-winning singer Ciara, have three children.