Virginia Tech running back David Wilson flashed that smile of his this weekend and promised he is undecided on whether the 2012 Sugar Bowl will be his last game in a Hokies uniform. But the ACC’s player of the year confirmed once again he is most certainly pondering if he should forego his senior season and enter his name into the 2012 NFL draft.
Wilson hasn’t clued anybody in on his decision, including position coach Shane Beamer, as he only recently began considering his options. So perhaps he’s telling the truth when he says, “It’s even on both sides. It’s going to come down to a gut decision and what’s best for me.” It was a far different stance than the one taken by cornerback Jayron Hosley, who admitted that he would likely declare for the draft following the Sugar Bowl.
So what is Wilson thinking about as he makes his decision? On Saturday, the junior detailed the different factors that could influence him in the coming weeks.
The injury factor
The number one concern for Wilson is the risk of injury next year should he stay in college. Wilson recently spoke with former Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams, who left school early last season and was selected with the ninth pick of the second round by the Arizona Cardinals.
Williams suffered a ruptured patella tendon during the preseason, and Wilson seems acutely aware that “if he would’ve come back this season and tore his knee during the preseason at Virginia Tech, he probably wouldn’t have went second round,” Wilson said. “He would have missed the whole season like he’s doing now. Probably would have been struggling as far as the NFL goes.
“Quarterbacks like Andrew Luck, he’s going to take a few freaky hits, but unless something crazy happens, he’s not really gonna get hurt at quarterback,” Wilson added. “Receivers, they don’t take a big pounding. But at running back, you’re going between the tackles and you’re getting hit and you’re getting in those piles of people jumping on you and all kind of crazy stuff. Any running back will tell you, you only have a certain amount of carries. It’s just like a car; you’ve got mileage. You’ve got to use it wisely.”
The Virginia Tech factor
Wilson is also aware that if he returns, the Hokies will likely be the favorite to win the ACC next year, and could perhaps sneak into the preseason top five if they win the Sugar Bowl against Michigan. After all, Virginia Tech will lose just two defensive starters (presuming Hosley leaves) and quarterback Logan Thomas will enter the 2012 season as one of the top returning signal callers in the country.
Though Wilson will lose his veteran offensive line when four starters run out of eligibility following the Sugar Bowl, the Hokies will likely rely on him more than ever with record-setting wide receivers Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale graduating as well. There’s also a good chance Wilson will be on the short list of Heisman Trophy candidates after rushing for an ACC-high 1,627 yards this season.
“The team next year is going to be stacked,” Wilson said. “We have a lot coming back and that definitely plays a role. I love playing with these guys and in college football.”
The draft stock factor
Wilson is currently rated as the second or third-best running back prospect this year, depending on what draft guru you prefer. Alabama’s Trent Richardson is universally considered the top running back in the country, with Wilson and Miami’s Lamar Miller trailing him.
Last year the second running back selected in the NFL draft was Williams, early in the second round. Wilson said Saturday the grade he receives from the draft advisory board would play a big role in his decision, even though his athleticism and track background likely mean his stock will improve at the NFL scouting combine.
“Clear first round, it’s definitely gonna be like, ‘Whoa,’” Wilson said. “Second round, that’s gonna make it hard and think about it. . . . With the combine, there’s chances to move up. It just depends.”