Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas is well aware of just how good the Hokies could be offensively next year if junior David Wilson decides not to declare for the NFL draft after next Tuesday’s Sugar Bowl. But Thomas has yet to try and convince Wilson to stay in Blacksburg, and it doesn’t sound like he’s planning to either.
“I don’t really say anything to him because he has enough pressure as it is. I know how it feels to have that pressure on you,” Thomas said Saturday morning. “I don’t really say much to him. Of course we’d love to have him back, because it makes my job easier. Definitely wish he would come back, but if he were to go I wouldn’t blame him whatsoever.”
Whether this year’s Sugar Bowl will be Wilson’s last game as a Hokie running back was one of the prevailing themes this week, especially since he’s coming off a season-low 32-yard performance in the ACC championship game.
Wilson said Friday he has yet to receive feedback from the NFL’s draft advisory board but he has talked extensively with his parents and former Virginia Tech running back Kevin Jones, who is back on campus finishing up his degree right now, about the decision. He plans to make an announcement about his status after Tuesday’s game against Michigan.
But in between dodging questions about his future, Wilson offered a glimpse into what he has planned for perhaps his final spotlight moment at Virginia Tech.
“I don’t know if it’s the turf or the long break we had for my body to get to 100 percent, but I definitely do feel a lot faster and a lot stronger,” Wilson said. “I can’t wait to assess it all on the field.”
By all measures, though, Wilson’s 2011 campaign ranks up there with every great running back to come through Blacksburg during the Frank Beamer era. The Danville, Va., native gained 1,627 yards to earn ACC player of the year honors, and with 29 yards against the Wolverines he would break Ryan Williams’s single-season school record.
But it’s Wilson’s durability and physicality that has even caught his coaches off guard. The tailback said Saturday that the only ailments he suffered during the course of this season were a bruised hip and a jammed finger despite receiving a career-high 266 carries.
“You knew he was going to make people miss; you knew he was going to be able to outrun some potential tacklers,” offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring said. “But to break as many tackles as he did throughout the season, to show that physical part of it … we knew he had that ability. But to the level that he did it, yes, it did surprise me.”
Despite that success, Wilson seems to be carrying the weight of his poor performance with him into this one saying, “all my frustrating moments this season came against Clemson.”
After the Hokies’ second loss to Clemson in the ACC championship game earlier this month, Wilson openly complained about the team’s play calling, upset that he only saw 11 carries. He said Saturday that frustrations was the result of losing, and that he wouldn’t have cared about his workload had Virginia Tech won.
“That game was one that I’m going to remember any time I’m getting prepared for a team,” Wilson said. “I’m gonna remember how I felt after that game, and I’m gonna prepare so I don’t feel that way again.”
That’s the sort of attitude the Hokies are going to miss if Tuesday is in fact Wilson’s final game at Virginia Tech. Behind the dynamic runner, Thomas said, is a dynamic personality and neither can necessarily be replaced.
“He’s a great person, first of all. He cares. He wants to do everything right. He wants to be everybody’s friend. That’s the person you’re gonna miss in him if he goes,” Thomas said.