Former Badger Russell Wilson headlines UW-Madison commencement

PHOTOS: Congrats class of Spring 2016!

Former Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Russell Wilson headlined UW-Madison’s spring commencement Saturday, speaking to more than 5,500 new graduates.

Wilson, 27, was drafted as a Badger in 2012 and is now the starting quarterback for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.

“I was really excited to come back to Madison on a weekend,” Wilson said. “It’s been a while since I’ve gone to Wando’s and have seen you guys at Wando’s drinking your fish bowls. That’s a joke – maybe. We’ve got some fun spots in Seattle, but nothing quite like Wando’s.”

Wilson shared personal stories, recounting his days growing from being a T-ball player, to college football player, to NFL star. He also shared memories of his father, who died in 2010.

“I remember playing T-ball as a kid and not to brag but I was a really good T-ball player. I mean I’m talking about really good, I crushed T-ball!” Wilson said. “So even though I was just 3 or 4 years old I remember I was thinking ‘You know, I could be something special one day.’ My dad thought I might be getting ahead of myself so he’d set me straight. He’d say ‘Son, potential just means you haven’t done it yet.'”

Wilson frequently injected his speech with humor.

“I’m also here to share some things I’ve learned. Things like, if you’re dating a woman that’s way out of your league — ask her to marry you,” Wilson said. “If you can throw a football for 80 yards, for some reason people think that’s pretty cool. And if you’re playing the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl and you’ve got 26 seconds left and you’re down by four and it’s second and goal on their 1-yard line, try not to throw an interception. That’s purely, purely hypothetical though, of course.”

The main theme of Wilson’s speech was encouraging students to persevere when “life tells [them] no.”

“When life tells you no, ask yourself honestly: ‘What am I capable of?'” Wilson said. “And once you know the answer, don’t be afraid to let everyone else know too.”

Wilson encouraged students to know what they are capable of and do “amazing things.”

“I would say ‘good luck,’ but I don’t believe in good luck,” Wilson said. “Go make it happen. This is my story. Now it’s time to write your own.”