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“Anybody wants to reach their goal as fast as they can. I thought it was just going to be a pit stop. Let me go here, play football, play good and then I can leave. But when I got here, I started making friends, having a lot of fun, being in an atmosphere like playing in front of the people at Lane Stadium, building a relationship with the coaches and all kinds of relationships in the community. You get to know people. It’s not like a pit stop anymore. It’s like you found a new home.”

Because of his fun-loving personality, Wilson almost immediately became one of the most popular players on the team. He wowed reporters by doing eight consecutive standing backflips during preseason media day his freshman year, and then did 10 a year later. He impressed his teachers by wearing a shirt and tie to class almost every day.

He has an infectious giggle that fills a room. He likes to sing while running drills in practice. And he’s been known to climb things, anything, from fences to the large support columns outside Cassell Coliseum.

“Just follow him around, he’ll do something every minute that’s funny,” Tech senior right tackle Blake DeChristopher said.

Wilson’s free spirit off the field corresponds perfectly with his freewheeling playing style. He rarely runs in a straight line. He frequently jukes and changes direction to try to make a big gain.

He has had several runs in his career that appeared destined for big losses, but he turned them into long gains. Against Clemson on Oct. 1, he reversed field twice and backtracked 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage while squirming out of tackles, but then he high-tailed it up the sideline for a 20-yard gain.

“Sometimes you question where he’s going, but you know he’s going there full speed, so you’ve got to let him go,” Tech coach Frank Beamer said.

Hokies offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring learned of Wilson’s great improvisational running style while watching one of his high school games his junior season. He capped off one of his zig-zagging runs that night with a flip into the end zone.

“It was the greatest deal. He started on a speed sweep to the left. He started it, ran over to the left sideline, high-fived a coach on their sideline, took a drink of Gatorade and started all the way back across. I didn’t think he was going to get to the sideline on the other side, and then he started back across, and I said, ‘He’s not going to get back over here.’ He got all the way back over and cut it up the field,” Stinespring said.

“I think it was about a 100-yard run when it was all said and done, and when he got to the 3-yard line he flipped it on in. He stuck it nicely. Nadia Comaneci would have been proud of him.”

Stinespring exaggerated some of the details, but not by much. Wilson does things on the field that have to be seen to be believed.

Wilson puts full effort into every one of his passions, and football is only one of them. When asked what drives him most, he said, “Making my family happy.”

He said he loves to please his parents. His mother, Shelia, displays her approval much more than his father, Dwight.

“There have been times where I have made my dad that happy, where they’re both equally expressing their happiness,” Wilson said. “But my dad, he kind of tries to hide his happiness a little bit. So it’s that drive to make his face light up that motivates me.”

Twelve years ago, Wilson marveled as he watched his father rebuild the family house piece by piece. He helped by nailing wood and connecting pipes, among other jobs.

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