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Virginia Tech football: 4 days til kickoff with a look back at David Wilson

Wilson’s 2011 season was the greatest in Virginia Tech history for a running back.

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Allstate Sugar Bowl - Michigan v Virginia Tech
David Wilson in action against Michigan in the 2011 Sugar Bowl.

Today is August 27, 2019, which means we are just four days away from the Virginia Tech Hokies opening the college football season at Boston College. For No. 5 in our countdown, we profiled Tyrod Taylor, one of the top quarterbacks—and the winningest—in Virginia Tech history.

For No. 4, it wasn’t an easy decision as so many great Hokies have worn the number such as DeAngelo Hall, Eddie Royal and David Wilson. However, we give the nod to Wilson who had an outstanding career in Blacksburg, particularly his 2011 record-breaking campaign.

Wilson arrived at Virginia Tech in 2009 as a four-star prospect from George Washington Danville High School in Danville, Va. He was the No. 6 player in the state, No. 9 running back in the country and the No. 90 player overall, per 247Sports. That 2009 class also featured Logan Thomas, Jayron Hosley, Antone Exum. Wilson was also a track star in high school, more on that later.

Upon arrival in 2009, Wilson joined a loaded Hokie backfield with Ryan Williams and Darren Evans already on campus. Injuries unfortunately happen and Evans was lost for the season that summer with a knee injury. Williams took over the lead back role and had a historic season, rushing for almost 1,700 yards and 21 touchdowns. He was an All-ACC running back. Wilson contributed too, playing in 13 games, rushing for 334 yards and four scores. He also returned 17 kicks that season, too.

As a sophomore in 2010, Evans had returned and Williams was still around. That meant the Hokies had a really nice problem in the backfield. The coaches loved Wilson though and never gave any thought to redshirting him. His speed and big-play ability were too important to the offense. Williams would miss some time with injury in 2010 and Evans moved back into his former starting role. Wilson still played in all 13 games, making one start and rushing for 619 on an average of 5.5 yards per attempt and four touchdowns. Wilson also caught four touchdowns and averaged 15.6 yards per reception. Wilson also led the Hokies in kick-return yardage and average, while also returning two kickoffs for touchdowns. He could do everything.

Finally in 2011 with Evans and Williams off to the NFL, the starting job belonged to Wilson. And he delivered. Wilson started all 14 games for the Hokies, rushing for 1,709 yards on an average of 5.9 yards per attempt and scoring nine touchdowns. He broke Williams’ school record for rushing yards in a single season. WIlson also caught 22 passes and added another touchdown. Despite his heavy load on offense, Wilson still returned kicks at times for the Hokies in 2011. He would win the ACC Player of the Year, ACC Offensive Player of the Year, the Dudley Award given to the top player in the state of Virginia and was also a second-team All-American.

Wilson would enter the 2012 NFL Draft where he was selected No. 32 overall by the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. After a rough start in his first game, Wilson started to catch fire with the Giants and broke a team record with 327 all-purpose yards in a December win over New Orleans. He returned a kick for a touchdown while also rushing for 100 yards and two touchdowns.

Big things were ahead for Wilson, but sadly he suffered a neck injury in Week 5 of the 2013 season. The injury was ruled as spinal stenosis and doctors told Wilson he faced an enhanced risk of further neck injuries if he continued his career. In January 2014, he underwent neck surgery. Later that year, he was advised by doctors to retire and did so that summer.

After his retirement, Wilson began training in track and field again with hopes of making the Olympics as a triple-jumper.

Wilson is one of my all-time favorite Hokies and was a pure joy to watch. Much like Taylor yesterday, at some point Wilson will be a member of the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame.


In collaboration with the fine folks over at BreakingT, we have a shirt for sale honoring the great Bud Foster as he enters his final season with the Hokies and can find it here. Go grab yourself a cool tee for football season.

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