Hokies' Darren Evans to enter draft

Virginia Tech running back Darren Evans has decided to forgo his final season of eligibility and enter the NFL draft.

"I've put a lot of thought into this with my family and wife and I've decided to declare for the draft, turn pro," he said. "It's been a decision that's been pretty tough with the success I feel like I've had at Virginia Tech and the opportunity it's brought me. I feel like after the years I've spent there, this is a great opportunity for me to take on the challenge of going to the NFL, which has always been a dream for me."

Evans, who spoke to reporters this afternoon via teleconference from his home in Indianapolis, said he expects to be drafted in the third or fourth round. He hasn't hired an agent yet, and said his main priority will be performing well in the NFL combine to improve his stock.

After missing the entire 2008 season with a torn ACL, Evans returned this year and led the ACC champs with 854 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns in nine starts. For his career, he rushed for 2,119 yards and 22 touchdowns. His yardage total is the 16th-most in school history.

Evans made a name for himself as a redshirt freshman. He rushed for 1,265 yards and 11 touchdowns to earn first-team All-ACC accolades and ACC Rookie of the Year honors. He capped off the season with 153 rushing yards in the Discover Orange Bowl win over Stanford to earn the game's MVP award.

"As long as I get on a team and learn the playbook and do the things I've always done up to this point, I believe I can play in that league," he said. "I've always had questions coming out of high school, coming to Virginia Tech and everything, and I've overcame them. I'm looking forward to doing the same at the next level."

Evans said he was "leaning towards leaving" toward the end of the season, and that Virginia Tech's Orange Bowl loss or the shared carries he had weren't a factor in his decision. Evans has a wife, Tanisha, and son, James, and said he wants to be "a provider."

"That's what I want to do, and this opportunity would allow me to do that," he said.

Evans said he doesn't know what his teammate, running back Ryan Williams, will do. Williams is also considering leaving early for the NFL.

"I understand what he's going through, and as a friend I'd rather not be bugging him about it, because I know enough people are," Evans said. "Just today I've had a gazillion phone calls and texts from different people. I appreciate everybody's concern, but I know he's getting just enough if not more because of the type of player he is. I've been leaving that side of our friendship alone until he makes a decision. Then I'll be there for him."

Evans played in 28 games for the Hokies, starting 18. He said he will still get his degree through online classes at Virginia Tech.

Heather Dinich covers ACC football for ESPN.com.