Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson followed different paths to stardom

Scott Halleran

At the start of their sophomore seasons, the only major difference between Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck is about five inches in height.

When the Colts host the Seahawks on Sunday, it will be a matchup between two of the best teams in the NFL. The attention, however, will be on the comparison between Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson.

The two second-year quarterbacks were constantly compared, along with Robert Griffin III during their rookie seasons. The comparisons have continued this season and will likely continue for years to come. Although Luck and Wilson have had similar success since entering the NFL, their paths to the league were very different. Here's a closer look how their careers compare, dating back to their high school days.

High school careers and college recruitment

On the field, Luck and Wilson had similar success at the high school level. Luck's numbers dropped from his junior season, but he still played well enough to earn national praise. Both and ranked Luck as the No. 4 quarterback in the country with Scout ranking him as a five-star recruit. Luck racked up 33 touchdowns as a senior, including 14 rushing scores. He received offers from a number of big schools and committed to Stanford before his senior season.

Statistically, Wilson was better than Luck as a senior. He threw for 3,009 yards and 34 touchdowns while running for 1,132 yards and 18 scores. That didn't translate into a lot of interest from colleges, however, with Wilson receiving offers from North Carolina State and Duke. He committed to N.C. State in part because the coaching staff was willing to let him play baseball and football.

College careers

Both players redshirted their first season on campus, before taking over as the starter the next year. Luck started out of the gate as a redshirt freshman, as did Wilson.

Luck and Wilson each took significant steps forward during their sophomore seasons with Wilson throwing for 3,027 yards and 31 touchdowns and Luck finishing his sophomore season with 3,338 yards and 32 touchdowns. Luck was equally impressive during his junior season and then declared for the NFL Draft.

Wilson had a solid junior season, leading the Wolfpack to a 9-4 season. After the season, he decided to leave school to attend spring training with the Colorado Rockies, who drafted him in the fourth round the previous summer. After struggling in spring training, he turned his focus back to football. He attempted to return to N.C. State but was reportedly told the Wolfpack moved on and he should look into transferring. He landed at Wisconsin and had a record-setting senior season, completing 72.8 percent of his passes and leading the Badgers to the Rose Bowl.

NFL Draft

From the moment he announced he was going to return for his junior season at Stanford, Luck was penciled in as the likely No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. That was never really in doubt during the season, even with the rise of Griffin and others. The Colts eventually made it official, selecting Luck No. 1.

Wilson began his college career well off the NFL radar. His success at N.C. State and Wisconsin made him a legitimate NFL prospect, but teams were still wary the 5'11 Wilson would have success at the next level. Even after an excellent showing at the NFL Scouting Combine, Wilson was still regarded as a mid-to-late round pick due to his size. If Wilson were a few inches taller, he may have gone as high as No. 3. Instead, he lasted until the third round where Seattle grabbed him with the No. 75 pick.

2012 season

Luck won the starting job with the Colts the second his name was called during the draft. He started every game, proving to be a threat with his arm and legs. Under offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, the Colts pushed the ball down the field. As a result, Luck threw for a lot of yards, but wasn't as efficient as he was in college. He finished the season with 4,374 yards and 23 touchdowns, but completed just 54.1 percent of his passes and threw 18 interceptions.

Despite the turnovers, Luck led the Colts to an 11-5 season and a playoff berth. He engineered four fourth-quarter comebacks and seven game-winning drives. He had some rookie issues, but was often at his best when the game was on the line.

Wilson opened training camp third on the depth chart behind Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson. He impressed immediately during camp and put on a show in the preseason. Wilson started the third preseason game and never looked back, winning the starting job.

The Seahawks limited him early in the year, instead relying on their rushing attack and stout defense. The restraints began to come off as the season went along and Wilson's numbers rose. He threw for 1,652 yards and 16 touchdowns over the final eight games of the regular season. He led Seattle to the playoffs and a Wild Card victory over Washington. The Seahawks made a huge comeback against Atlanta, behind his 385 passing yards, but came up just short of the NFC Championship game.

2013 season

With Pep Hamilton taking over as offensive coordinator in Indianapolis, Luck and Wilson are playing in similar offenses this season. Seattle and Indianapolis are each in the top five in rushing yards per game. Luck's completion percentage has gone up 10 percent this season while his passing yards per game have dropped.

Wilson is ninth in the NFL in passer rating through four games with Luck not far behind at No. 12. Despite not putting up flashy numbers, both Luck and Wilson have become more efficient during their sophomore seasons. Wilson is averaging 8.2 yards per attempt -- up from 7.9 -- while Luck's yards per attempt improved from 7.0 to 7.2.

Both continue to be running threats as well. Luck is averaging 7.9 yards per run and has already notched two rushing touchdowns. Wilson ran for 77 yards against Houston, with his legs playing a huge role in Seattle's comeback.

Neither quarterback is throwing deep as often this season as he did last year and both have excelled on quick passes and by using play action. According to Pro Football Focus, Luck has a 106.5 passer rating when he holds the ball for 2.5 second or less, compared to 73.0 when he holds the ball longer. Wilson has similar numbers with a 107.6 passer rating on quick throws and 84.4 otherwise.

Wilson has thrown four of his six touchdown passes on play action. He averages 9.7 yards per attempt and has a 135.5 passer rating on those plays. The Colts don't use play action as much as Seattle, but Luck has still performed well when they do. He has two touchdowns and a 102.0 passer rating on play action this season, according to PFF.

While their paths to this point have been incredibly different, it may be hard to distinguish between Luck and Wilson on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

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