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Dr. Saturday

Headlinin’: For the NFL, Russell Wilson gives up the diamond for good

Matt Hinton
Dr. Saturday

Making the morning rounds.

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My Honeymoon with Weinke. This time last year, then-N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson was under contract with the Colorado Rockies and had a better-than-even chance of never playing football again. Wednesday, hot on the heels of a blockbuster campaign in Wisconsin, Wilson said he's decided to give up baseball altogether and pursue the NFL instead. "I want to put all my focus in football and see where it takes me," he told the New York Times, adding that he's already informed the Rockies he plans to leave the organization. "I know that I have the talent, aptitude and leadership to succeed on the next level."

Wilson is projected as mid-round pick despite his height (5-foot-10), which would make him un-draftable if he hadn't just set a single-season record for pass efficiency en route to a first-team All-Big Ten nod and another conference championship for the Badgers. At any rate, he's not going to fare any worse in pro football than he did last summer for the Class-A Asheville Tourists, for whom he hit just .228 with 82 strikeouts in 193 at-bats before cutting his season short to enroll in Wisconsin.

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Wilson begins training for the draft with former Heisman winner Chris Weinke in Florida next week — one day after he's scheduled to get married. [New York Times]

We hardly knew ye, part one. Georgia tight end Orson Charles is foregoing his senior season in Athens for a shot at the NFL Draft after hauling in 45 passes and earning a first-team All-SEC nod as a junior. He's projected as a second or third-round pick, which means he should be able to afford to replace the crystal football he once broke during a recruiting visit to Florida. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

We hardly knew ye, part two. In slightly more surprising draft news, LSU receiver Russell Shepard is giving up his final year of eligibility in Baton Rouge despite three years of… let's say modest production: After arriving as an All-Galaxy quarterback prospect in 2009, Shepard was quickly moved to wide receiver and wound up touching the ball just 133 times in his Tiger career — and only 23 times as a junior, when he was passed up on the depth chart by true freshman Odell Beckham Jr. With that production and an unremarkable 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame, I hope he's prepared for a long wait for his name to be called in April. [TigerBait.com]

Penn State update, part one. Former Penn State athletic director Tim Curley is battling lung cancer, according to his wife and attorney, at the same time he's fighting charges of perjury and failure to report for allegedly sitting on a credible eyewitness report in 2002 that longtime defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky had been caught molesting a child in a Penn State shower. (The perjury charge stems from his recent testimony to a grand jury, in which Curley claimed he was not informed of any sexual or criminal acts by Sandusky.) Melinda Curley said in a statement to the Harrisburg Patriot-News that her husband's cancer is a recurring issue since June 2010, but that he hasn't required chemotherapy or radiation.

"Mr. Curley did not want his personal health issues to overshadow or minimize the serious legal issues at hand," said his attorney, Caroline Roberto. "However, despite his illness, Mr. Curley has remained totally focused on doing whatever is necessary to demonstrate that he is not guilty of the crimes with which he has been charged."

Former coach Joe Paterno — who informed Curley of the accusation against Sandusky after being informed himself by then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary — is also battling lung cancer, and is reportedly handling radiation treatments well. [Patriot-News]

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Penn State update, part two. Elsewhere on the Sandusky beat, multiple sources — including former linebacker Brandon Short — tell the Patriot-News that Sandusky was sitting in the president's box during Paterno's final game, a 10-7 comeback over Illinois on Oct. 29 that pushed Paterno past Eddie Robinson with 409 career wins as a head coach. That was just one week before Sandusky's indictment on dozens of counts of sexual abuse spanning well over a decade, and well after multiple Penn State officials — including Paterno and Curley — had been called to testify in front of a grand jury during the investigation that led to Sandusky's arrest.

A university spokesman said a search for guest lists over the last three seasons shows Sandusky was never invited to the president's box. [Patriot-News]

The Rap Sheet. Ohio State cornerback Dominic Clarke is scheduled to be arraigned today on at least three misdemeanor charges stemming from a weekend traffic stop, including operating a vehicle while impaired. Clarke was pulled over by campus police on Saturday night for running a stop sign and going 35 mph in a 20 mph zone, and subsequently registered "low levels" on a breath test, according to the arrest report. Last year, Clarke was fined $112 and suspended for the Illinois game after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct for firing a BB or paintball gun from the top of a dormitory cafeteria. [Columbus Dispatch]

Quickly… Boise State promotes a Prince to offensive coordinator. … Illinois picks up a new offensive coordinator from LSU. … On-again/off-again USC receiver Brice Butler is finally transferring to San Diego State, making him the third Trojan transfer in as many days. … Top prospects say race is not an issue in recruiting. … Six early enrollees in Ohio State's 2012 recruiting class are already on campus. … The Bulldogs and Rebels are reenacting General Forrest's epic billboard campaign through northern Mississippi. … And Bill O'Brien speaks with Joe Paterno for the first time. The main topic of conversation: Their alma mater, Brown.

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Matt Hinton is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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