Ahead of this weekend's Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks, we profile start quarterback Russell Wilson.
It was September 20, 2008 and a star was born.
The East Carolina Pirates began their season with three straight wins, including victories over No. 17 Virginia Tech and No. 8 West Virginia. Heading into their game against in-state rival North Carolina State, the Pirates were ranked 15th in the country and were expected to move to 4-0 against a Wolfpack team that limped into the game with a 1-2 record.
ECU led 24-17 late in the fourth quarter until N.C. State's redshirt freshman quarterback Russell Wilson threw a touchdown pass to George Bryan with one minue, 12 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime. The Wolfpack won the game in overtime and Wilson kept winning from there. After splitting time at quarterback to begin the season, he won the starting job and led the Wolfpack to four straight wins to close out the 2008 season.
He threw for 3,027 yards and 31 touchdowns to 11 interceptions the next season before leading the Wolfpack to a 9-4 record while throwing for more than 3,500 yards and accounting for 37 touchdowns in 2010.
After receiving his degree from N.C. State, Wilson transferred to Wisconsin, where he led the Badgers to a Big Ten championship and a berth in the Rose Bowl while leading the nation in pass efficiency with 3,175 yards and 33 touchdowns to just four interceptions.
After the Seattle Seahawks drafted the 5-11 quarterback in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, the "short" rookie beat out two veterans for the starting job.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Wilson is a "tremendous study" in competitiveness and has "tremendous potential and also the results to back that up".
Wilson came to the team as a natural leader, but has grown and developed even more while building a 42-13 record as a starter, which is the most wins all-time through a quarterback's first three seasons in the NFL.
During Seattle's run to its first Super Bowl championship last year, Wilson threw for 3,357 yards with 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He threw for 206 yards and two scores in Seattle's 43-8 win over Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII.
General manager John Schneider had a feeling that Wilson could be a special player and he wasn't wrong.
Wilson beat out Matt Flynn and incumbent starter Tarvaris Jackson for the job and the Seahawks haven't looked back.
The only knock on Wilson was his height. After evaluating his college success, Carroll said Wilson's height was "easy to overlook" because he "was special in so many other areas".
Because of his "tremendous presence and awareness and habits and character and smarts and athleticism," Carroll said Wilson is "showing you the make-up of a player" who has the "it factor".
Now Wilson has the Seahawks back in the Super Bowl and can become the youngest player in NFL history to win consecutive Super Bowl championships.
"Russell's figuring out what he does well and what we do well," said Seattle center Max Unger.
"It's pretty amazing from his rookie year, a lot of ups and downs from that season. He is as advertised though. That just speaks to being a professional at this level and kind of keeping emotion out of the equation when you're making decisions on the football field.
"Nobody works harder than him. This is a guy that really logs in the hours. You can tell. It's showing up. His progression in the offense has been awesome. It's been what you want from a guy, and I think his win-loss record justifies that."