After wrapping up his junior season of basketball and averaging almost 22 minutes per game, Devin Wilson decided to take a chance and play football for the first time since high school when he was a low three-star WR that had a few offers, including one from NC State, but chose to play basketball instead. In the spring, Wilson showed some promise and with his basketball athleticism, some wondered if Wilson could actually find a role this fall.
Instead, that was not the case as Wilson rarely touched the field at all and only had 2 catches for 13 yards with Wilson having one reception against both Liberty and East Carolina in blowouts. Wilson chose to stick around with the football team through the Belk Bowl and while he did dress out for the game, he did not play against the Razorbacks and only played in one of his final eight games.
After the Belk Bowl, Wilson returned to the Virginia Tech basketball team and was in uniform for the Hokies’ game against Duke, but never touched the floor not even late in the game when victory seemed inevitable. While that was still mainly due to how the Hokies were facing Duke, this gave us a small picture of how big of a challenge that Wilson will have trying to earn playing time.
Obviously, one of the biggest issues that Wilson is having is the fact that Wilson didn’t start practicing with the Virginia Tech basketball team till after the bowl game from what we know. Wilson is a veteran player, but there are a lot of challenges for any player to come months into the season and try to earn any sort of playing time.
The situation is kind of reminiscent of what happened with Isaiah Ford after his freshman season when he never ended up joining the basketball team for conference play as he was originally expected to. Now part of that was due to the immense success that Ford had a tremendous freshman season, but there had to be an extent of reality that hit Ford about the significant challenge that he was going to face coming in midseason to try and earn playing time.
Wilson does have the benefit of having played three seasons for the Hokies including two under Buzz Williams, but there is a significant challenge coming in during conference play when coaches are pretty entrenched in their rotations after doing the experimentation in non-conference play along with getting younger players experience then to see how large of a role they can handle in conference play.
Devin Wilson should be in relatively good shape, but there is a difference between how there is a break after every play in football and how there are not nearly as many breaks in basketball. This will bring a fitness adjustment that Wilson will have to make relatively quickly also to be playing at a high intensity level for more than just 5 to 10 second stints.
Virginia Tech also has a fairly entrenched eight-man rotation with the main five being Seth Allen, Justin Robinson, Ahmed Hill, Chris Clarke, and Zach LeDay with Justin Bibbs and Khadim Sy being the top big and wing off the bench along with starting over Allen and LeDay. Ty Outlaw has also entrenched himself as the eighth and final man in the Hokies’ rotation playing around 10 to 15 minutes as a solid rebounding wing that is also a quality three-point shooter.
Right now, it’s hard trying to fit Wilson in to a spot on this team especially with the Hokies having Allen and Robinson who can play together or be the point guard when the other one needs a break. Wilson is also not as good of a shooter as any of the Hokies’ point guards or wings while being a decent rebounder but not nearly as productive as Outlaw has been.
However, there is the potential for Wilson to earn a role on this team partly due to the fact that he does have tons of experience, which is always valuable to have in the ACC.
Last year, Wilson was one of the best defensive players the Hokies had and definitely has the potential to break into a second half role as someone who can come in and provide strong defense to help protect the lead while also being a good ball distributor that also has an assist-to-turnover ratio that has been better with 2 in the past two years.
Wilson also isn’t afraid of contact and is the type of guy that can come in off the bench to give Robinson and Allen some rest, and provide quality ball distribution and great defense.
The challenge ahead for Devin Wilson is great and it’s hard to see him earning more than 10 minutes a night given the talent on this team. However, Wilson has ACC experience and undoubtedly provides some much-needed depth in case of injury while the fact that he has been a defensive specialist gives him an opportunity to potentially fill a niche role late in halves for the Hokies.
Time will tell if Wilson earns a role in the Hokies’ rotation but given the timing of his return, expectations should be low for how much Buzz Williams will use him.