There is a picture on the wall in Virginia Tech running backs coach Billy Hite’s office of two former players, standing back-to-back and holding footballs.
“They were called the untouchables,” Hite said of tailbacks Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones.
The former players still hold their places in Hokies history, but Hite’s latest dynamic duo could be even better.
A look back into Hite’s old playbook might reveal how he plans to use Darren Evans and Ryan Williams next year. Suggs was older, so he would get two series to Jones’ one, Hite said. Suggs ended up tearing his ACL, though -- just like Evans did this past summer, in a noncontact injury -- and Jones took over. Jones rushed for a school-record 1,647 yards and 21 touchdowns as a junior.
Williams, a redshirt freshman, needs 110 yards to break the school's single-season rushing record set by Jones in 2003. Williams has 1,538 yards. It’s a record that could be set against Tennessee in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
On three different occasions -- against Boston College, Marshall and Rutgers -- Jones and Suggs each racked up over 130 rushing yards. Maybe it’s not such a bad idea to have Evans and Williams sharing the carries next fall.
“I honestly think Ryan and Darren are very capable of being as good as what (Jones and Suggs) were,” Hite said. “Ryan, to be honest with you, I said earlier in the year he was the best young back I ever coached. After seeing the things he did -- he’s doing the same things Suggs and Jones did when they were seniors. I really do feel that way. And of course the year Darren had last year, he’s a special back. He’s very powerful, and Kevin Jones was a very powerful back, also. Lee was like Ryan in a lot of ways, where people couldn’t get full-speed shots on him. He had great vision and he could back, and he was fast enough to outrun people and strong enough to run over people.”
There’s only one other lingering situation for Hite to consider, and it’s something he hasn’t talked to Evans or Williams about yet -- the potential to be a first-round draft pick. It’s a choice they might have to make after the 2010 season, and if they’re at the top of the NFL lists, Hite will be the first one to push them out the door. He said he plans to talk to them about it after spring practice and won’t mention it again until after the season is over.
“Obviously I hope they stay around for a long time,” Hite said. “If they’re going to be a No. 1 draft pick, then I would kick them out of here. They wouldn’t have to worry about asking me about if they ought to leave or not.”
If they stay, more “untouchable” records could fall.