Well, through eight games Wilson leads the country with 1,037 yards, the only running back in the nation to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark so far. He’s on pace for 1,685 yards if the Hokies have a 13-game season — regular season plus a bowl game — and 1,815 if they also reach the ACC championship game. Both figures would break Ryan Williams’s school record of 1,655 yards set in 2009.
Wilson talked with Williams recently, and the injured Arizona Cardinals running back told him he would “easily crush his record,” Wilson recalled Tuesday after practice.
And yet, a quick perusal through various Heisman watches show very little buzz for Wilson. He’s not listed as a Heisman candidate by HeismanPundit.com, ESPN.com, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, The Sporting News. CBS Sports is the lone Web site I could find that even mentioned Wilson as a contender.
“I figured if I accomplished all the goals on my sheet, I would be a Heisman candidate,” Wilson said. Let’s check on those goals after the jump.
1) Gain 1,700 yards: If the Hokies make the ACC championship game – and right now they’re the only team in the Coastal Division with just one conference loss – Wilson is on track to eclipse the 1,800-yard mark.
2) Average 100 yards per game: Wilson has shown remarkable consistency, gaining between 132 and 163 rushing yards in all but one game this year. Through eight games he’s averaging 129.6 yards, fourth-best in the country.
3) Score a touchdown in every game: Not accomplished. Both East Carolina and Clemson kept Wilson out of the end zone.
4) Average more than six yards per carry: Wilson is averaging 6.32 yards per rush, which would set a new Virginia Tech record for running backs.
5) Score 20 touchdowns: He has eight touchdowns so far (seven rushing, one passing). He’ll have to pick it up here, or persuade quarterback Logan Thomas to quit keeping the ball on those read-option plays in the red zone.
6) Run for more than 260 yards in one game: Not yet. He’s averaging 20.5 carries per game right now, but chances are he’ll need more than that to accomplish this one.
7) No fumbles: He had three in the Hokies’ first five games. Wilson said Tuesday he has officially altered this goal to “no more fumbles.”
8) Earn all-ACC and all-American honors: Unless Miami’s Lamar Miller goes on an absurd late-season tear, chances are Wilson will earn first-team all-ACC honors. As for all-American status, Alabama’s Trent Richardson may have a leg up in terms of first-team recognition. For comparison, Richardson has 989 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns, and is averaging 6.64 yards per carry in one less game than Wilson.
So Wilson may not reach all the goals he set for himself. But hasn’t he done enough to be a Heisman candidate? Quarterback Logan Thomas had a theory Tuesday.
“He doesn’t have the 20 touchdowns and he doesn’t have the big 80-yard touchdown runs like some people have,” Thomas said. “But he’s completely consistent. If it were me, I would say he’s definitely up for it. But it’s not up to me.”
Wilson lacks a signature moment at this point, although that long sideline-to-sideline excursion that resulted in a 19-yard gain against Clemson was certainly something to behold. If he wants to get into the discussion, Wilson will likely need to check off his goal of gaining more than 260 yards in a game during the stretch run of this season. It wouldn’t hurt to break off one of those explosive plays that he was known for last year. So far, Wilson’s longest run of the season was a 57-yard gain two weeks ago at Wake Forest.
But as is the case every year when it comes to the Heisman, Wilson would be best served to save his greatest exploits this season for a game in which the nation is watching Virginia Tech — the Hokies’ two Thursday night games next month at Georgia Tech and home against North Carolina come to mind.
That’s not to say Wilson is consumed with getting his name mentioned in the Heisman race. While he admits to paying attention to the fact he leads the country in rushing yards right now – “I don’t plan on giving it up too easy” – Wilson isn’t campaigning for an invitation to New York at the end of the season.
“All the hype and recognition, that’s not what really makes a football player,” he said. “I just try to go out each week and try to get the victory for my team. Virginia Tech in itself, you don’t hear about us on ESPN or on TV, unless they’re talking about a loss we had or how they expect us to lose. We go out each week trying to win. I don’t worry about all the hype.”
But what do you think? Should Wilson be getting more Heisman buzz at this point. The top contenders at this juncture seem to be Stanford’s Andrew Luck, Richardson, Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson, Baylor’s Robert Griffin III and Boise State’s Kellen Moore. Does Wilson stack up to those guys? Let me know what you think in the comments section.