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Scouts flip over Wilson's athleticism


Virginia Tech running back David Wilson can do 10 standing backflips, a skill he began to develop at the age of 3.

He's been known to catch a rabbit (not by its toe) and even a pigeon on one occasion. He loves to mesmerize his teammates with the "rewind," where he performs a practice play in reverse with uncanny accuracy.

Now Wilson is poised for perhaps his greatest feat to date: to star as an NFL running back.

"I thrive on competition, and I'm getting ready to play in a league where it's the best of the best," Wilson said. "I just want to be successful and be remembered as one of the greatest."

Wilson arrived at Virginia Tech with great expectations, and he didn't disappoint. He performed admirably as a backup running back and as a home run threat in the return game his first two seasons, then he took full advantage of his opportunity to start last season, rushing for a school-record 1,709 rushing yards.

After helping the Hokies reach the ACC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium each of the past two seasons, Williams followed in the footsteps of Hokies running back Ryan Williams by leaving school early for the NFL. Like Williams last year, Wilson could be a second-round draft pick - if not earlier.

"Since I was 6 or 7 years old, I wanted to play in the NFL," Wilson said. "I happen to be good at it, and I'm just blessed to be at the point I'm at now. Scouts have me ranked pretty high. It's right in front of me just to grab it."

Wilson grabbed the attention of fans at George Washington High School in Danville, Va. – about 100 miles southeast of the Virginia Tech campus – with a backflip at the goal line on a long touchdown run. He often overwhelmed opponents with his athleticism on the high school level but had to learn a different approach on the college level.

"Coming out of high school, I was way faster than everybody and stronger than a lot of my tacklers," he said. "But coming to college, everybody's good. Everybody's an athlete, so you have to put more strategy into how you run the ball, and I think that's where I mostly improved - strategizing and setting up my defenders so I could make them miss in the open field and break tackles."

Not to say that his insane athleticism didn't come in handy. Wilson ran a 4.49 in the 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine (and a 4.29 in college), and he earned All-America honors in the triple jump last spring.

When Wilson was named a second-team All-American by the Associated Press after last football season, he became the first Virginia Tech athlete ever named All-American in both football and track.

Wilson said his track background helped him at the NFL Scouting Combine.


"I look at this combine thing as another track meet," Wilson said. "You've got the broad jump, which is like the long jump, the 40 is like the 100, and the high jump and vertical jump. All this stuff just goes hand-in-hand, and at the end of the day, you've got football drills. It's everything that I like to do."

Wilson does like numbers – low ones on the track, high ones on the football field – but he's about so much more than numbers.

"I think determination plays a strong role for me," Wilson said, "always being extra hungry to get that extra yard."

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