During training camp in August, Virginia Tech running back David Wilson taped a well-publicized list of goals to his locker. This week he was able to cross off attaining all-ACC status from it, becoming one of two unanimous selections to the all-ACC first team.
Nowhere, though, did he list any sort of player of the year honors.
On Wednesday, however, Wilson was rewarded for a season that will likely go down in Virginia Tech’s record books when the ACC announced he has been named the league’s overall and offensive player of the year.
In his first season as the Hokies’ primary tailback, Wilson is third in the country and leads the ACC with 1,595 rushing yards, just 60 shy of breaking Ryan Williams’s school record set back in 2009. He’s also just 204 yards from shattering Thomas Jones’s ACC rushing record.
Wilson was named on 18 of the 45 overall player of the year ballots, nine more than Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly. Kuechly was named the ACC’s defensive player of the year on Wednesday.
Wilson also received 26 of the possible 45 votes for offensive player of the year, beating out Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd. Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas received three votes for overall player of the year and two votes for offensive player of the year.
“I want to thank all of my teammates and all of my coaches for sticking with me and helping me to achieve this award,” Wilson said in a school-issued statement. “This award means a lot because any player who wins it definitely worked hard for it because it’s not something that you can just stumble upon. You have to put a lot of hard work into it. But you also can’t do it by yourself, so I have to specifically give thanks to the other guys on the offense, especially the offensive line and other blockers; but I also have to thank the whole team because you have to be successful as a squad to have someone win this award.”
Wilson is the second Virginia Tech player in as many years to take home both the ACC’s overall and offensive player of the year honors after former quarterback Tyrod Taylor accomplished the feat last year. Former quarterback Bryan Randall also took home player of the year honors in 2004. But this is the first time since former Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward was named ACC player of the year in 1992 and 1993 that the same program has produced consecutive winners.
The moment could be a bittersweet one for Hokies fans, though. Wilson confirmed Tuesday that he will soon file paperwork with the NFL’s draft advisory board as he decides whether or not to forgo his senior season and declare for the 2012 NFL draft.
Known for creating explosive plays as a kick returner and change-of-pace back during his first two years in Blacksburg, Wilson showed the country this year that he’s more than capable of carrying the load in the backfield.
He was held under 100 yards rushing just twice – in a win over Arkansas State in September and a Thursday night victory over North Carolina two weeks ago – and at one point had a streak of seven-straight games in which he finished with between 123 and 175 rushing yards. Wilson is just one 100-yard game away from setting a new ACC record in that regard.
Perhaps more impressive was the durability and toughness he showed running between the tackles. Though Wilson is listed at 5-foot-10, 205 pounds, he broke 140 tackles this season and gained close to 1,000 yards after contact.
The only glaring issues in Wilson’s resume were his lack of touchdowns (10) and seven fumbles (four lost) this year. Those are the biggest reasons why Wilson wasn’t a finalist for the Doak Walker Award, given annually to the nation’s best running back.
Next month, though, when all-American honors are doled out, Wilson has a chance to accomplish a rare double. After attaining all-American status in the triple jump at last year’s NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, there’s a possibility he could add football all-American to his growing list of accomplishments.
Below is the full voting for all three of the ACC’s player of the year awards.
ACC Player of the Year
David Wilson, TB, Virginia Tech, 18 votes
Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College, 9 votes
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson, 8 votes
Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson, 7 votes
Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech, 3 votes
ACC Offensive Player of the Year
David Wilson, TB, Virginia Tech, 26 votes
Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson, 9 votes
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson, 8 votes
Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech, 2 votes
ACC Defensive Player of the Year
Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College, 30 votes
David Amerson, CB, NC State, 14 votes
Matt Daniels, SS, Duke, 1 vote