Giants fans know David Wilson can jump. They are just more used to seeing him go for backflips, not distance.
Wilson, who had to retire from the NFL in August due to a neck injury, said Monday he hasn't given up his dreams of competing at the top levels of athletics. He just won't be able to do it in a contact sport. Instead, Wilson will return to Virginia Tech to complete his degree and train with Tech assistant track coach Charles Foster to compete in the triple jump.
"One level of competition has been taken away, but I'm not [just] a football player — I'm a competitor," Wilson said Monday at Citi Field where he was taking part in a charity event. "Track and field is something I can do at a high level."
Wilson finished sixth in the 2011 NCAA track and field championships in the triple jump with a jump of 53 feet, 1.74 inches. Florida's Christian Taylor won the event. Taylor won the gold medal in triple jump at the 2012 London Olympics, and finished fourth in last year's World Championships. Wilson said he is already setting his sights on Rio in 2016.
Taylor's personal best is 58 feet, 11 inches, so Wilson will have some catching up to do if he wants to compete at the world level. The final qualifying mark for the finals in the 2012 Olympics was 16.62 meters, or 54 feet and 5 inches, though so Wilson wasn't too far off from the elite level during his college days.
Wilson was the No. 32 pick in the first round by the Giants in 2012. And while he's just 5-foot-9, he was selected so high because of his tremendous athleticism. He had a 41-inch vertical and 11-foot broad jump, both among the top performers during the 2012 NFL Combine.
The 23-year-old former running back had offseason neck surgery after his season was cut short in 2013 and hoped to return this fall. However, Wilson took a shot to his neck in the preseason and suffered a "burner," where he temporarily lost feeling in his arm. Team doctors told Wilson it was in his best interest not to play football again.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.