He saw action as a true freshman backup in 2009 (13 gp/0 st), finishing with 334 yds on 59 carries (5.7) and 4 TDs, adding a 19.1 avg on kickoff returns. Wilson was part of a crowded backfield in 2010, sharing time with Darren Evans and Ryan Williams (13 gp/0 st), recording 619 yds on 113 rushes (5.5) and 5 TDs, adding two kickoff return TDs.
With Evans and Williams leaving for the NFL, Wilson became the full-time starter in 2011 as a junior, finishing with a conference-best 1,709 yds (single season school record) on 290 carries (5.9) and 9 TDs, adding 21 catches for 126 yds and 1 TD. He earned several accolades, including First Team All-ACC, Second Team All-American and conference Player of the Year honors. After the season, he decided to forego his senior season and enter the 2012 NFL Draft.
Wilson is an explosive player with impressive quickness, agility and body strength ? runs fast and strong with the rare ability to either make guys miss or run through them. He accelerates in a flash with plus speed, but only uses it in the open field and clear daylight ? way too patient between the hashmarks and much more comfortable bouncing outside and working in space.
Wilson, who also adds value as a return man, has starting potential in the NFL with a lot of raw ability, but needs to improve his instincts ? really question his feel running between the tackles which will limit his effectiveness at the next level. He will test very well in pre-draft workouts and has enough natural talent to warrant a top-50 pick, but some immaturity and ball security concerns could hurt his long-term upside.
Inside: Tough guy to bring down and almost always gets positive yardage when he lowers his pads and gets north/south. Still very raw as an inside runner, running too indecisive and struggling to find running room at the LOS ? wavers and hesitates too much when the clear opening isn?t there and ends up going east/west for a loss. Lacks natural instincts with questionable vision and awareness to feel blocks and press the hole. Will slow down prior to contact and leave yardage on the field.
Outside: A smooth, explosive athlete who accelerates quickly downfield with a rare extra gear that he can reach in a hurry ? can really turn on the jets. Shows the flexibility and balance to bend and stay on his feet while avoiding tackles. He has a strong plant foot with some shiftiness to catch defenders off balance and routinely gets to the second level ? squirmy and tough.
Breaking Tackles: Has a strong, compact build with good muscle mass on his body ? generates power from his frame. He is physical with the strength to run through contact, keeping his legs churning and carrying defenders. Won?t go down easy and picks up a lot of yardage after initial contact.
Blocking: Limited experience as a pass protector and needs extensive work on his technique.
Receiving: Has only average ballskills out of the backfield and wasn?t used a lot as a receiver in college. At his best on bubble screens to get him on the outside with a head of steam.
Intangibles: Runs at full speed on every play with full effort and determination ? high energy player and doesn?t cheat himself. Has suspect ball security with several fumbles over his career, holding the ball too loose.
Has some coachability issues, openly questioning the play-calling at times ? butted heads with the coaching staff more than a few times for not enough carries. Has only one season as the full-time starter.
Participated in both football and track for his first two seasons at Virginia Tech and finished second in the ACC in the triple jump in 2010, qualifying for Nationals.
Offers value on special teams as kick returner, tallying 59 returns for 1,285 (21.8) + 2 TDs over his career. Extremely productive as the full-time starter in 2011, setting several school records including single season rush yds (1,709) and consecutive games with 100+ rush yds (7) ? 10 total 100+ rushing yd performances in 2011 (ties ACC record)."
-- Dane Brugler
Showcases a “plus” burst on the toss sweep to the edge. Exhibits impressive balance and footwork running the corner and possesses the quickness to simply side step defenders at full speed and explode into the open field.
Plays fast in space, drops his pad level well and keeps his knees bent when looking to make a defender miss. Looks like a 4.4 guy with top end acceleration.
Showcases some patience at the line of scrimmage when asked to run from I-formation sets/single backsets. Allows his blockers to set up in front of him and trusts his first step even with defenders closing in on him. However, can be a bit slow at times to decipher information inside and vision is only average.
Nevertheless, runs with a low pad level and good forward lean, with the change of direction skills to pick his way through a phone booth and accelerate.
Demonstrates a unique blend of quickness, burst and an overall aggressive/powerful running style and isn’t afraid to lower his head into contact and slip/break tackles. Is a balanced runner into contact who can keep his feet if defenders don't wrap up.
At times will allow his pad level to pop upright inside when looking to burst into the open field and can easily be wrapped on the play when he exposes his legs. However, for the most part keeps his pad level down and will churn his leg through contact and make himself small when plays are all blocked up.
Will leave some yards on the field and has a tendency at times to try to out run the defense, causing him to run into some negative plays. Would like to see him be more content to simply win the play with a two-yard gain and move on. Also, ball security at times gets a bit lose and he will put the ball on the ground.
Showcases good hands in the pass game. Looks natural snapping his head around on the screen and was used down the field at times as well, showcasing the body control/coordination to pluck off his frame. Needs work in blitz pick-up.
More of a cut guy only who isn’t’ real patient and doesn’t routinely get much of his man. Nevertheless, has played a dynamic role in the kick return game and adds a quality return man to an NFL roster.
Impression: He’s a compact kid who runs stronger/harder than you would expect from a guy his size. Has a dynamic quality to his game both inside and in the open field, and looks capable of maturing into a very good NFL running back early on in the NFL."
Outside Running: Wilson will make his living on the edge in the NFL. He has a burst of speed that isn’t seen often and the second gear to break away from defenders. He has excellent agility that allows him to cut back inside on outside runs that are stuffed.
Hands: Wilson may be one the best pass catching RB’s in the draft. He is a bit of a Percy Harvin-type that is a threat out of the backfield. In open space he is a homerun threat. Teams will look to find ways to get Wilson the ball out of the backfield as he’s a threat to take it the distance. Virginia Tech didn’t do a great job of utilizing his ability to catch the football out of the backfield but NFL teams will look to exploit this ability.
Blocking/Durability: Average blocker that has decent instincts in picking up the blitzer. He will have to work on his blocking ability at the next level in order to stay on the field. With only one full season of wear and tear, Wilson has held up well. This fact could work for him or against him in the durability department. He has less wear and tear but he also hasn’t proven he can withstand the punishment of a 16 game NFL season with only limited collegiate starts.
Bottom Line: Wilson has a blend of speed and power that is rare. He can flat out fly but also has the power and wiggle to break tackles. He is a nightmare in the open field to bring down. If Wilson learns to block in the NFL and gets to holes without trying to create too much he could be a steal for a team in the second round.
Draft Projection: Wilson will be a top of second round pick and could work his way into round one with a strong showing in pre-draft workouts."
Wilson has largely been an outside runner during his career. He's shown on plays outside the tackle box and in the return game that he can break a big gain. If he wants to help his draft stock, though, getting positive yards between the tackles is a must.
• When he gets into open space, Wilson seems to have that mythical second gear to break away from defenders.
• Hard to take down with an arm tackle. It's not necessarily because he's a power back, either. Wilson has plenty of wiggle to his game to shake off tacklers.
• Is a strong enough runner to be able to grind on a defense early and still break a big gain late in the game.
• Has a knack for making big plays at important times. Against North Carolina State last season, Wilson turned the game around with a big kickoff return for a touchdown. He won the game for Virginia Tech against Georgia Tech with another touchdown return.
* Added 10 pounds of mass before his junior season and looks like a much stronger runner.
• Still needs to get more comfortable running between tackles and setting up his blockers. Like many speedy running backs, Wilson needs to start setting up his blockers better.
• Shows off his agility when cutting back inside on sweep plays outside.
• Is quickly developing into a legitimate No. 1 workhorse of a running back. There were questions about this before the season because he played a bit part to Williams and Evans.
• A weapon on screens in the passing game. Broke one reception in 2010 for a 65-yard touchdown."
Has some suddenness to him, can juke defenders in the open field... Has good balance through the hole, runs with a low center of gravity and it's hard to knock him off balance... Slippery, doesn't absorb many big hits, is able to protect himself from injury well... Good leg drive, always trying to move forward... Fights through arm tackles in the hole...
Good vision, sees running lanes... Great potential as a receiver out of the backfield, shows soft hands and is at his best in open spaces... There is a long lineage of Frank Beamer running backs in the NFL... Coming off a huge junior season, put up 1,709 yards and nine touchdowns on 290 carries...
Consistent, had ten 100-yard games this year... Has a knack for breaking the big play, had runs of 30 yards or more in nine games in 2011... Doesn't have a ton of tread on his tires, only has one year as a featured back... Good character, a hard worker and solid student... Has experience returning kicks.
Negatives -- Carries the ball high at times and the ball can get knocked out of his arms... Sometimes gets caught trying to cut plays back to the other side of the field and will take his fair share of negative plays... Gets away with dancing behind the line in college, won't have that luxury in the NFL...
Poor blocker who can be engulfed by linebackers and doesn't play with great technique... Too often fails to anchor and ends up lunging at defenders in pass protection."