The Hokies found a star in Darren Evans last season, and coming into 2009, Tech may find a second and even brighter star in their backfield.
Ryan Williams was all set to play when he enrolled last summer but couldn’t pick up the plays quick enough and redshirted.
Even though Ryan clearly wanted to play, that selfless move will only benefit him and the team for years to come, as the Hokies will have one of the best backfields in the country.
So with the Hokies having around five players that could potentially start at running back this fall, let’s take a look at how the depth chart will start out this spring.
Sophomore Darren Evans had a coming-out party in his freshman season in which he started nine games and rushed for 1,265 yards with 11 touchdowns.
With every carry this past season, you could see Evans improving and getting more comfortable. After another spring practice, Evans should be even better in 2009, although his statistics may drop off some since Tech does have other tailbacks that will be able to touch the ball.
Darren played very well this past season, but the one problem he is going to have to work on is catching the ball out of the backfield. Evans led the running backs this past year with six dropped passes.
When you’re a running back at Virginia Tech, you have to earn everything. So going into spring practice, I think Josh Oglesby will start out second on the depth chart ahead of Williams just because of the experience factor.
JO had a decent season in 2008 and showed some signs of greatness in the Orange Bowl where he had his longest run of the season, which went for 13 yards. He finished the year with 38 carries for 88 yards.
Oglesby is another player that needs a good spring, just because with Williams right behind him and David Wilson coming in this fall, only so many backs can touch the ball.
Orion Martin and Macho Harris both were asked to pick people to watch out for next season, and both of them replied the exact same way: “Ryan Williams.”
Ryan was a four-star running back coming out of high school and was expected to play last year, but with the emergence of Darren Evans behind Kenny Lewis, Williams was forced to redshirt.
So after a year of scout team practice and weightlifting, Williams should be ready to bask in the spotlight in 2009.
The JO vs. Williams battle this spring should be a fun one to watch, especially since Ryan can be used in multiple ways. He could easily line up at RB, FB, or out in the slot, much like Reggie Bush out at USC a few years back.
Kenny Lewis will miss all of spring practice after suffering a torn Achilles tendon in the Western Kentucky game last year and then re-tearing the muscle again in the shower a few weeks later. He should return for fall practice, but Achilles injuries are tough to overcome, so it’ll be interesting to see how Lewis heals over the next few months.
Tony Gregory enrolled this past January, so he will be another name to watch out for at the running back position. Tony may end up at wide receiver or cornerback as well, but it appears that he will at least get a look at running back when spring practice first convenes in late March.
Jahre Cheeseman has decided to walk away from football and finish up his degree. Rumors swirled that he was transferring, but it looks like Jahre will stay at Tech and get his degree and move on to the next stage of his life.
Lost from 2008
Dustin Pickle (graduated)
Jahre Cheeseman (Leaving team)
Enrolling in 2009