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NFL behind him, David Wilson hopes to rediscover place in track and field

Kristian Dyer
Shutdown Corner
RB Wilson cleared to practice with Giants
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FILE - In this Thursday, May 29, 2014 file photo, New York Giants running back David Wilson talks to the media during an NFL football organized team activity in East Rutherford, N.J. New York Giants running back David Wilson has been cleared for contact work after recovering from neck surgery, Monday, July 21, 2014. Although he attended offseason workouts with the Giants, Wilson was held back from many activities by the team's medical staff. On Monday, he said, "I got cleared this morning ... that was the best news I'd gotten in a while." (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

When David Wilson found out two weeks ago that his once-promising NFL career was cut short, there was no hysteria, no anger from the 23-year old. Instead, the New York Giants running back sat there calmly and took the news.

Deep down, he knew the possibilities as he waited in an office at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. He had recently suffered a “burner” injury in his neck and the doctors told him that if he continued to play football there could be serious consequences. This despite offseason surgery that was supposed to correct the problem.

The potential was there as he was set for his third year in the league. Although he had yet to play a full NFL season, Giants fans saw glimpses of his potential in 2012 and a rare flash the following season, despite the injuries. He was a former first-round pick who was supposed to be a game-changer out of the backfield. This upcoming season was going to be the year where he would carry a bigger role and finally begin to look like that first-rounder.

So as he sat and waited for the news, he knew the possibility that he might never play again. He was prepared for the worst and hoped for the best. His preparation was well-founded.

“Knowing what I was going for, I knew I'd be told 'Yes, you can play' or 'No, you can't play.' It was going to be either this or that. I knew that going into the door when I sat down with the doctor. They explained it to me that they didn't think I should play again,” Wilson told Shutdown Corner.

“I said on the way driving up, I knew if that was the case — this or that — once they told me that I took a deep breath and said 'OK.' That's that.”

Although his football career is over, he isn't ready to hang things up quite yet athletically. He doesn't foresee an NFL comeback — “I'm not sure how that would work, just based off talking to a doctor,” he said — but with football now over he plans on running track again.

In college, he was a part of the Virginia Tech track program as well as playing football. The program won the 2011 ACC Indoor Track and Field Championship and he was sixth in the nation in the triple jump. It will take some doing if he wants to be competitive but focusing solely on track and field opposed to playing football at the same time should help him towards his goals.

Wilson said it shouldn't take him long to get in shape for track meets as an unattached competitor. He likens it to the NFL scouting combine where sponsors and companies will gauge his potential and see if they want to sign him. From that exposure, he hopes to compete at a high level. If he performs well and shows promise, then he could be signed to a sponsorship deal.

From there, the sky is the limit.

“That would be my aspiration: to be in the Olympics. To compete in track again and be in a field where I could be at a high, competitive level,” Wilson said. “To be in that field again and maybe in the Olympics would be amazing.”

Currently, Wilson still weighs in at his NFL playing size of 205 pounds. He will need to lose about 20 pounds to get to the ideal weight for competing again.

Additionally, he's trying to use what was a tragic instance in his life to help young people.

Wilson was on hand at the home of the New York Mets, Citi Field, on Monday taking in the Citi Kids program where he shared his inspirational story with 150 local children from the United Neighborhood Houses. The mission of Citi Kids is to support children’s development through various programs designed to instill meaningful values and knowledge that will be the groundwork for their future.

Wilson said with the speaking engagement, he thinks he will connect with the young people in the Citi Kids program because, “It's someone who looks like them. I'm not like an older guy in my 40s or whatever. They look at me, and I look like I'm in the 20s and they see a young guy telling them what they have to do, what they need to do.”

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Kristian R. Dyer writes for Metro New York and is a contributor to Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KristianRDyer

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