On a June afternoon, with a hop, skip and a jump, David Wilson raised his stakes for this fall in Blacksburg. At the NCAA track championships, Wilson's 53'1¾" distance in the triple jump made him an All-America. That soon became the impetus for a recurring message from well-wishers: Now it's time to earn the same honors in football. Says the junior running back, embracing the expectations, "That will be on my list."
That's no figure of speech: Each year Wilson writes out a sheet of goals and tapes it to his locker at the start of training camp. Last season, as a kick returner and third-string runner on the Hokies' 11--3 ACC championship team, Wilson had little trouble checking off more modest aims, like gaining five yards per carry (he averaged 5.5) or scoring seven total touchdowns (he had 11). With the starting gig now his, the 5'10", 205-pound Wilson is setting his sights higher, shooting to become Virginia Tech's first dual-sport All-America and rewrite the team's single-season record book. Those are lofty aspirations, but considering Wilson's speed and quickness—he sometimes chases down rabbits and birds for fun—and the fact that his 11 scores in 2010 came on just 150 touches, they are certainly not out of reach. "That's what's exciting for me," says coach Frank Beamer, "to see if that ratio continues."
For the Hokies to reach their team goals—most immediately, a fourth conference crown in five years—they will also need a strong fall from Wilson's backfield mate, new starting quarterback Logan Thomas. The highly recruited sophomore, a 6'6", 254-pound threat with both his arm and feet, has thrown just 26 collegiate passes. But the leadership he's shown has his coach likening him to his predecessor, ACC Player of the Year Tyrod Taylor. "And," adds Beamer, "he's about four inches taller."
Beamer will need significant growth from his defense, which ranked seventh in the conference against the run last year and proved prone to breakdowns: In a 40--12 Orange Bowl loss to Stanford, Tech gave up five plays of 38 yards or more. "We've got to put some things together," Beamer says. But with their offensive firepower, his Hokies are ready to take a great leap forward.
3 Appalachian State
10 at East Carolina
17 Arkansas State
24 at Marshall
15 at Wake Forest
22 Boston College
29 at Duke
10 at Georgia Tech
17 North Carolina
26 at Virginia
In his 28 straight starts, the 6'2" 307-pounder has helped the Hokies average 205.2 rushing yards.
At 6'6" and 254 pounds, he has Cam Newton size; his speed and arm draw Cam-parisons too.
Had an FBS-leading nine picks in his first year as a starter. Could be the nation's top corner.
Coach Frank Beamer (25th year)
2010 Record 11--3 (8--0 in ACC)
Final AP Rank 16
Returning Starters 11
Offense 6, Defense 5
GERRY BROOME/AP (WILSON)
Wilson, who is an All-America triple jumper, has his sights set on making a big leap in his junior season after moving up from third on the depth chart.
JEFF LACK/ICON SMI (HOSLEY)