Ex-Giant David Wilson will return to track

August, 18, 2014
Aug 18
8:00
PM ET
NEW YORK -- David Wilson's career is back in track.

The former New York Giants running back, whose NFL career ended earlier this month because of a spinal injury, reiterated Monday that he plans to launch a professional track and field career as a triple jumper.

"Unless something drastic happens over the next few weeks, I'm looking forward to getting back on the track," Wilson said at Citi Field, where he took part in the "Citi Kids" program by sharing his life story with 150 local children.

"One level of competition has been taken away, but I'm not [just] a football player -- I'm a competitor. Track and field is something I can do at a high level."

[+] EnlargeDavid Wilson
AP Photo/Evan PinkusEx-Giants running back David Wilson will take to the track after a premature end to his football career.
Wilson, 23, played 21 games for the Giants over two seasons. The former first-round pick out of Virginia Tech showcased his speed with some highlight-reel touchdowns as a rookie, including a 97-yard kickoff return and scoring runs of 52 and 40 yards.

He will return to Virginia Tech to finish his degree and train under assistant coach Charles Foster. The former running back has high hopes for his new career. "Rio is on my mind every day," he said, referring to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Wilson placed sixth in the triple jump at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, recording a best of 53 feet, 1.74 inches. The champion that year was Florida's Christian Taylor, currently the reigning Olympic gold medalist.

"The first time I saw him, I said to myself, 'This guy must be a sprinter' because of how large he was," Taylor said of the 5-foot-9 Wilson, who has a powerful 205-pound frame. "Then he got on the runway, and I thought maybe he was confused. We laughed about it, and he told me I needed to get in the weight room."

Taylor has already reached out to Wilson to extend a welcome back to the sandpit.



Taylor doesn't believe the time away from track and field will be an impediment for Wilson. But it will still be a challenge.

"It's not going to be easy. The toughness won't be an issue after playing against the best football players in the world," Taylor said. "Just getting back into the track mentality may be a little hurdle he has to clear. The spectators may come as a big surprise to him after getting used to filling up stadiums."

The attendance doesn't matter to Wilson.

"When you step on the track, it's about you. It's not really about the crowd," he said. "With the crowd comes high adrenaline rushes, but my adrenaline comes from the guys around me doing well. I want to do better.

"It could be four of us in a backyard jumping into sand -- I think each one of us would want to walk out of the yard with the best jump."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Jeff Demps was a two-sport star at Florida and a world-class track athlete before starting his NFL career. He was a member of the silver medal-winning 4x100-meter relay team at the 2012 London Olympics. He captured another relay medal at the World Championships in Moscow last summer before making his NFL debut.

Taylor, who won gold in London with a jump of 58.43 feet, watched firsthand as Demps alternated between football and track for the Gators.

"I've seen the transition with Jeff. It's completely different running and different mechanics," Taylor said. "Breathing is different, and you don't have pads on anymore."

Taylor is no stranger to football. The Georgia native helped his high school team reach the state playoffs, but ultimately chose track and field over football.

"When I got my helmet knocked off, that was a wake-up call," he said. "I can take some regular hits, but when the helmet popped off, I thought it was a sign that I did not need to be in this sport."

Taylor will be out to defend his Olympic title in Rio. Wilson hopes to be there with him, outfitted in red, white and blue.

"I want to compete at the level those guys are competing," Wilson said. "They're jumping crazy numbers. I think if I focus in and train hard, hopefully I'll be able to do that."

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