BLACKSBURG, Va. — Virginia Tech running back David Wilson didn't want to leave college football without a proper goodbye.
So he called a press conference Friday at Lane Stadium, and he was joined by his parents and coaches when he announced he will forgo his senior season with the Hokies to enter the NFL draft.
Wilson, a Danville native, said he felt a quick and unceremonious exit would have been disrespectful to his team. He instead wanted to express his gratitude to Tech for giving him the opportunity to play and for preparing him for the next level.
He came dressed in a dapper ensemble, with shirt and tie and black suede jacket, and read a statement from his iPad.
"I've played many Fridays. I've played many Saturdays. And now I would like to forgo my last year of eligibility to go play on Sundays," said Wilson, who has dreamed of playing in the NFL from an early age. "I can't give enough thanks to the people who positioned me to where I am today, especially those guys that took the field with me each week."
Wilson, who rushed for a school-record 1,709 yards and received second-team All-America honors this season, said he was leaning toward going pro for a while, but he didn't make his final decision until Thursday.
"It was very tough. Even [Thursday], writing this statement, I almost teared up just thinking about [how] the Sugar Bowl was my last game at Virginia Tech," Wilson said.
Wilson received a second-round projection from the NFL's draft advisory board, and he believes he can excel during workouts to elevate himself into the first round.
ESPN analyst Todd McShay projects Wilson as a first-rounder. Both McShay and NFL.com rank Wilson second among draft-eligible running backs behind Alabama's Trent Richardson.
"I definitely feel like I can move up and be a first-round draft pick," Wilson said. "That's just the drive in me to always be better than what people assume."
Hokies junior cornerback Jayron Hosley announced after Tech's loss to Michigan in the Sugar Bowl on Tuesday that he also will leave school early for the NFL draft.
Hokies coach Frank Beamer said he and his assistants presented Wilson and Hosley with the information from the NFL's draft advisory board and then left them to make their decisions. The NFL told Hosley he could potentially go late in the first round, but he is most likely to be picked in the second round.
"We told them whatever they decided with their families that we were going to support them fully, and that's the way it is," said Beamer, who sat next to Wilson on the podium.
Wilson's defection leaves a sizeable hole at tailback next season for the Hokies. With 39 career carries, sophomore Tony Gregory has the most experience of the returning players, but he had knee surgery Thursday and is expected to miss spring practice.
Redshirt freshman Michael Holmes, who was a two-time Group AA state player of the year at Harrisonburg High, and true freshman J.C. Coleman, a four-star recruit who has signed and plans to enroll for the coming school semester, will battle for carries during spring practice.
Tech also plans to sign top running back recruits Drew Harris and Chris Mangus on National Signing Day on Feb. 1.
Read more about the Hokies at VTeffect.com