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“I just saw people playing on TV. And then one day somebody said, ‘They get paid to play that.’ And then I was like, ‘Paid?’ I didn’t know they got paid,” Wilson said. “I was just watching them the whole time and thought they were just doing it for fun, like I’d go outside and play hide-and-go-seek.

“That was about it for me. Just doing that and seeing how much fun it looked for them and all the people watching them, I knew I wanted to do that.”

So he dedicated himself to achieving that goal. He built his body into a football-toting machine. He’s a chiseled 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds now, and he has been timed at 4.29 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

His hard work carried over to the football field. He has a long list of accomplishments at every level he has played.

He was an All-American at George Washington High and widely considered one of the top tailback recruits in the country.

That success continued in college, where after waiting two years to win the starting job, Wilson has become one of the top tailbacks in the country.

“I’ve had some good running backs, but David is special,” said Tech quarterbacks coach Mike O’Cain, who doubles as offensive play-caller. “He’s just a hard, fierce, tough, strong, fast running back.”

Wilson has rushed for 1,627 yards and nine touchdowns this season, and he was named the ACC’s player of the year and a second-team All-American. Also a standout on the Hokies’ track and field team, Wilson is the only Tech athlete to win All-America honors in two sports.

“The things he does now, he’s above and over the rim now,” Dwight Wilson said. “He’s reached the point where I don’t think anybody can help him. It’s like he’s elevated to the point where the only thing I can do is give him spiritual strength.”

Some might think Wilson has gotten all he can out of college, but his current coaches don’t believe that.

Wilson acknowledges there still is much to be gained from another year at Tech. He can get stronger and faster and has the potential to put up numbers nobody has seen from a Hokies’ tailback.

But is that enough to convince him to come back? Is it enough for him to put his lifelong dream on hold for one more year?

Wilson once thought of college as nothing more than a steppingstone to the NFL. He couldn’t have been more wrong.

While Wilson’s time at Virginia Tech has certainly positioned him for a promising NFL future, he has come to recognize his college experience as more than just an interlude before the main act of professional football. He has grown to love Tech and the experience of playing football there.

“When I was young, I thought once you graduated high school, you move on with life,” Wilson said. “But as I got more into football, getting closer to those years when I would enter college, I looked at it as like, ‘All right I guess I’ve got to go to college to get to the NFL, like a pit stop. Let me do this and get to my goal as fast as I can.’

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