David Wilson charged down the runway on Saturday as if he was looking for an end zone. Instead, wearing a purple top with green shorts, he took 12 steps before launching into a triple jump that landed 14.66 meters from where it started.
"As you see on the runway, I still look like a football player," said Wilson, a former Giants running back and 2012 first-round pick. "For football, a running back, you have to have speed, quickness, power, balance; it's the same for the triple jump, except it's formatted in a different order and different time."
Wilson played nearly two seasons for the Giants before being sidelined with spinal stenosis in October 2013. He was forced to retire or risk permanent injury after suffering a burner during practice that derailed a post-surgery comeback.
The career change? Trade turf for track and field, where he was a high school standout and an All-American at Virginia Tech.
The 23-year-old made his professional debut sans ball at the Adidas New York City Grand Prix at Icahn Stadium. His first triple jump attempt was a 14.34, and the second go was a fault. A third try was not enough to qualify for this month's national championships.
The result was well shy of his personal best of 16.2, a mark he set in college, the last time he competed in track and field. But Wilson's day wasn't about numbers.
"Today was a good experience. I wasn't proud of how I performed, but I got my feet wet in a professional atmosphere. Next time, I'll know what to expect."
More specifically, Wilson will change his approach from 12 steps to eight. He used eight steps in practice out of caution for a recently healed hamstring, but figured that 12 steps -- and more speed -- would work in his favor on competition day. He was wrong.
"It felt awkward having that much speed and as I said before, I'm still on the heavy side," Wilson said. He slimmed to 196 pounds from 200-205, but still looked like a physical specimen compared to his leaner competition.
"You feel two times the weight, so I'm going to slow it down, come from eight steps and start to have more control."
Wilson said his Olympic dreams haven't changed after his unfavorable score. He plans to move forward, relying on his support system. That support was on hand after the event in the form of Giants players Odell Beckham Jr., Rueben Randle and Adrien Robinson.
"It's amazing to me for somebody to have such commitment and passion," said Beckham. "Being able to dedicate themselves to something like this is incredible on its own."
Beckham said he and Wilson talk every day and get in touch when they're in the same town. There are even plans to attend Wilson's St. Jude's charity softball game on June 26.
Said Wilson: "Once a Giant, always a Giant.
"They were out here, people in the crowd, yelling 'Go Giants, go David Wilson.' I always have that support following me. That's why it was so important for me to be at this meeting, jump in New York, and start my career here."
Wilson is focused on establishing himself in his new career, but always takes time to cherish memories of his old one.
"Oh, it means a lot because that was a dream of mine to play in the NFL, and I was able to accomplish that and move on to something else," he said. "I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to score touchdowns in the NFL and set records. And to still be able to compete and not feel pain is a very big blessing."