David Wilson is Virginia Tech’s strongest Heisman Trophy candidate since Michael Vick.
This seems to be the popular opinion among followers of Hokie football, despite that we’ve only seen Wilson as the starting running back in one game.
However, this level of excitement is at least understandable, considering Wilson’s 162-yard and three touchdown performance against Appalachian State. The better question would be: Is that excitement warranted?
It’s undeniable that Wilson has the necessary qualifications to be a Heisman hopeful. He’s proved that he’s an electrifying runner, and with an experienced offensive line opening holes for him, he should have no trouble breaking big runs with regularity.
Similarly, with an inexperienced quarterback like Logan Thomas at the helm, the team will undoubtedly lean on Wilson’s talents to carry the offense. The combination of playing in a power conference like that of the Atlantic Coast, while still facing a pretty weak schedule also surely helps.
Despite all these factors in Wilson’s favor, it still seems awful unlikely that his Heisman candidacy is anything but a pipe dream.
Winning the Heisman as a running back has proved to be extremely difficult in recent history. Only Mark Ingram and Reggie Bush have been able to take home the trophy since 2000, and approaching the type of numbers they put up to win the award is extremely difficult, even for a runner as talented as Wilson.
Ingram compiled a team record of 1,658 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns in his Heisman year, while Bush racked up 1,740 yards and 16 touchdowns in his since-vacated trophy season.
Even if Wilson accomplishes the lofty goals he has set for himself, such as running for at least 100 yards and scoring one touchdown per game, he will still be far short of the numbers needed to seriously contend for the award.
Beyond the numbers issue, his competition this year is extraordinarily steep. There are a wide variety of star players who have Heisman hopes of their own that could block Wilson from even being invited to the trophy presentation in New York.
Stanford’s Andrew Luck is the popular pick of football analysts to be the Heisman front-runner, and his position as the star quarterback of the sixth ranked team in the country surely helps his case.
Additionally, Landry Jones is currently piloting the number one team in the country, and after putting up a 4,700 yard season last year, could very well have the pure numbers to take the award. Even Boise State’s Kellen Moore has the ability to assemble an excellent resume with his gaudy statistics and the Broncos’ increased level of competition this year.
Perhaps most importantly, Wilson may not even be the best candidate for the Heisman among running backs. Players like Alabama’s Trent Richardson, South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore and Oregon’s LaMichael James may all accumulate superior statistics to squeeze Wilson out of the picture.
In short, Wilson’s talent and ambition certainly shouldn’t be criticized. People just need to understand his limitations, especially within the context of the Heisman.
If he were able to defy the odds, and accomplish something truly unpredictable, like a 2,000-yard season, then the Heisman would obviously be within reach. However, it’s important to appreciate Wilson for what he is, and what he is not.