AP Sports Writer
Virginia Tech running back David Wilson said Friday he'll skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft.
Wilson made his announcement at a news conference in Blacksburg, Va., with Hokies coach Frank Beamer at his side.
The speedy Wilson rushed for 1,709 yards and nine TDs this season. The ACC player of the year was limited to 32 yards in the conference championship game loss to Clemson and ran for 82 yards in a Sugar Bowl loss to Michigan.
Wilson said he struggled with the decision and weighed the positives and negatives, including the risk of injury next season. He said he talked to former Virginia Tech running backs Ryan Williams and Kevin Jones about it.
"I had a great season this year," Wilson said. "I felt like I built the legacy here to be remembered.
"This is something I really wanted to do. It's been my goal since I was 8 and a dream of mine. Just to be that close to it and be able to get it and accomplish something that you work so hard for and sweat for every day, I couldn't pass it up."
Wilson was a second-team all-American selection by The Associated Press. He also was an All-American in the triple jump last spring.
Wilson said the NFL's draft advisory board projects him as a second-round pick and he believes he can improve his status at the NFL combine. He said he plans to hire an agent in the coming weeks, and the history major from Danville hopes to return to Virginia Tech at some point to finish his degree.
Wilson said his teammates took the news of his departure well because many of them had been talking since the preseason that this could be his last season.
"We want to thank David and family for just so many great memories here at Virginia Tech," Beamer said. "What a wonderful player, but more so, a wonderful person. Great character. Great enthusiasm. (He) just has meant so much to Virginia Tech football. This was the beginning here and it's going to continue on. We're proud that Virginia Tech has been part of it."
Wilson said Wisconsin running back Montee Ball's announcement Thursday to return next fall didn't guide his choice to leave.
"Other people's decisions don't have an influence on me," Wilson said. "I stayed focused on what's best for me and what I need to do."
Wilson is the second Hokies player this week to announce an early exit. Cornerback Jayron Hosley said after the Sugar Bowl he'll forego his senior season. Hosley had nine interceptions in 2010 and a career-best 59 tackles and three interceptions this season.
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