Former High School All American RB David Wilson from Danville Virginia first stepped on the field at Virginia Tech in 2009. Wilson played in every game as a true freshman, ending the season with 334 yards on 59 carries and 17 kickoff returns for 325 yards. During winter conditioning, Wilson tied for the fastest 40 time on the team, posting a time of 4.29. As a result of his 40 time and other weight room achievements, Wilson earned Iron Hokie status. Wilson also competed in track and field, finishing 4th in the triple jump at ACC Championships.
Heading into Wilson’s sophomore season, Beamer was determined to redshirt Wilson but realized he couldn’t after Wilson’s stellar performances during spring practices. As a Sophomore Wilson split time with another talented RB in Ryan Williams, but still managed to become a more consistent contributor to the Hokie offense. Wilson would finish the season with 619 yards and 5 touchdowns on 116 carries. He also proved to be an extremely capable receiver out of the backfield catching 12 passes for 234 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Wilson also had two critical kickoff returns for touchdowns against NC State and Georgia Tech. Heading into the 2011 season, Wilson continued to post lineman like numbers in the weight room most notably achieving a 445 – pound front squat. Due to his track and field endeavors, Wilson did not participate in spring football. Wilson placed 2nd at ACC championships in the Triple Jump qualifying for NCAA Outdoor Championships where he would place 6th, earning all American honors. In his junior year, Wilson has accumulated 1,627 yards on 266 carries and 9 touchdowns. He also caught 21 passes for 126 yards and 1 touchdown.
Size: At 5’10” 205 pounds, Wilson is not very big in stature but possesses a large lower trunk giving him an impressive center of gravity. While Wilson has likely maxed out his frame in terms of gaining additional weight, his size or perceived lack there of will not be a problem for him at the next level.
Speed: During spring testing, Wilson posted a 4.29 40 time. With that said over the years we have found Virginia Tech’s 40 times to be rather inflated. For example, former Virginia Tech CB Rashad Carmichael ran 4.29 at Virginia Tech, but went on to post a 4.53 at the combine. While I do not think that Wilson will run 4.29, I don’t believe he’ll run as slow as 4.5 at the combine. Wilson’s 60-meter dash time of 6.86 suggest that he should run in the neighborhood of 4.40 to 4.44 range at the combine.
: The first thing that absolutely blew me away when watching Wilson was his acceleration and burst through the hole. For the past three years, I’ve credited Wilson with having the greatest acceleration and burst of any RB in college football. Wilson’s quickness is what allows him to consistently exploit creases in defensive fronts before Linebackers can fill their respective gaps.
Running Inside : Wilson’s quickness combined with his incredible balance and deceptive power enables him to be an effective inside runner despite prototypical size. Wilson is not afraid of contact and will lower his shoulder in an effort to gain additional yardage. Wilson plays behind his pads and has a low center of gravity, which allows him to gain yardage after contact. Wilson has the wiggle to make defenders miss in the open, but also has the strength to lower his shoulder to pick up additional yardage.
: While Wilson is a very good inside runner, he’s also a tremendous outside runner due to his speed and quickness. Wilson consistently demonstrates an ability to get around end as he is well adept at seeing a crease, getting his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage and exploding up field for positive yardage.
: Throughout his career, Wilson has proven to be a very reliable receiver out of the backfield. He has a great feel for the screen game and can also be used in the slot, as he is an accomplished route runner. I would’ve loved to see Virginia Tech utilize this facet of his game more consistently this year, as I do not believe his versatility was on full display.
Blocking : This is easily the part of Wilson’s game that needs significant improvement. I do not know if it’s lack of will or lack of skill, however there were too many times where I’ve seen Wilson in pass pro and simply lunge at a defender only to nearly give up a sack, or come extremely close to it. Wilson will need to work on his technique as a blocker to ensure he can be relied upon to protect his QB when he is called upon to do so.
: Wilson reads blocks tremendously well. He surprised me the most when I watched him in short yardage and goal line situations where he very effective in setting up his own blocks to pick up yardage. Wilson’s patience, ability to press the hole, read and set up blocks is reminiscent of Chris Johnson during his time at ECU.
: Wilson has tremendous vision as an inside and outside runner. Wilson finds cutback lanes with regularity on outside runs and also has an understanding of how to press a hole to set up blocks before exploding up field on inside runs. His vision and patience is what makes Wilson surprisingly effective in short yardage and goal line situations.
Carrying/handling vs. fumbling
: Wilson has proven to be rather reliable as a ball carrier in the past, however he has become fumble prone as of late. I would not deem Wilson a fumbler, but he does become rather sloppy with his ball handling when fighting for additional yardage. While his will to fight for that extra yard admirable, he should come to realize when the journey is over and place greater importance on maintaining possession of the football.
: Wilson has been rather durable during his career at Virginia Tech. Carrying the football 266 times this season, he has held up quite well and has yet to miss any action as Virginia Tech’s feature back.
Character : Known as a fierce competitor and leader, Wilson possesses great character. Wilson’s hard work is evidenced by his numbers in the weight room and production on the field. Wilson is also a very good student as he was named to the ACC academic Honor Roll for 2010-2011.
Overall: While many believe Lamar Miller to be the 2nd best RB in the 2012 NFL draft class, in my estimation, it is David Wilson that holds that position. Wilson is the greatest combination of acceleration, balance, long speed and vision of any RB in this class. What currently sets Wilson back is his ability to protect the QB in pass protection. If Wilson is able to improve upon his technique in this area (which I’m positive he will), he will be an exceptional feature back in the NFL for years to come. Wilson will likely be a late 1st to mid 2nd round pick in the 2012 NFL draft