Running back, Virginia Tech
5-foot-11, 205 pounds, junior
Member of the 2009 U.S. Under-19 National Team that won a gold medal at the IFAF U-19 World Championship in Canton, Ohio. He was selected in the first round fo the 2012 NFL Draft by the New York Giants.
This is the first in a series of looks at former U.S. Under-19 National Team players now competing in college football.
Something felt wrong to David Wilson before Team USA took on Canada in the gold medal game of the 2009 IFAF Under-19 World Championship.
Based on tournament seeding, he and his fellow U.S. National Team members had been led into the visitors’ locker room at Canton, Ohio’s Fawcett Stadium.
This didn’t sit well with Wilson. What was Canada doing in the home locker room?
“That really got under my skin,” Wilson said. “It was sour with me. I really told our guys how it felt like Canada wasn’t taking us seriously. I had been named captain of the team, and that’s when I felt like I started acting like it.”
Wilson backed up his words, carrying 10 times for 87 yards in Team USA’s 41-3 win. He finished the tournament with 427 yards on 33 carries en route to a gold medal and tournament MVP honors.
Two years later and after waiting his turn in the Virginia Tech backfield, he is now “the guy” in Blacksburg, Va., looking to take on that same leading role he showed before the gold medal game.
“My junior and senior years (of high school) and during my time with Team USA, I emerged as a player when I got the opportunity,” Wilson said. “I feel like I’m going through the same process right now in college. It’s like my (high school) junior season again. It’s going in the same direction.”
As the starter at running back after former Hokie running backs Darren Evans and Ryan Williams left for the NFL, Wilson opened 2011 with 162 yards and three touchdowns in No. 11 Virginia Tech’s 66-13 win over Appalachian State.
He hasn’t forgotten about his time with Team USA. He and Hokie linebacker Tariq Edwards, another member of the 2009 U.S. team, still talk about the gold medal run. Wilson keeps in contact with other teammates and feels a special bond after playing for his country with a select group of players.
He remembers his initial reaction to the offer of being asked to play for Team USA, which he immediately accepted.
“I just thought, ‘Is there anything more American than representing your country through football?’” Wilson said. “It’d be like a runner turning down a chance to go to the Olympics.”
The speed and tempo of playing in Canton against other players joining Division I programs helped him to adjust to what he would see at the collegiate level.
It also reinforced his love for his country.
“My grandpa fought for our country. So did my brother,” Wilson said. “When my brother and I were little, I always tried to be act and be like him. It’s basically the same thing with him and the military.”
Wilson said his time with Team USA strengthened him as a player, person and citizen. He said anyone given the chance to play for the U.S. National Team program should welcome the opportunity.
“If you love football, then you love this country,” Wilson said. “It should be something you shouldn’t have to think about at all.”
Other Team USA Flashbacks: