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Humble Jefferson Clears Space for Run Game

Running back Ryan Williams is tied for second nationally in rushing touchdowns (eight) and is sixth in rushing yards per game (123). But his early success would not be possible without the quiet but powerful force: fullback Kenny Jefferson.

“His success,” Jefferson said of Williams, “is my success.”

Jefferson has been an integral, if unheralded, part of Virginia Tech’s powerful rushing offense. The No. 6 Hokies (3-1, 1-0 ACC) play at Duke (2-2, 0-0) on Saturday.

Jefferson’s important role was on display in Saturday’s 31-7 win over Miami, as he cleared a path on each of Williams’s two touchdowns. After running for 150 yards on 34 carries, Williams was given the game ball but took that time to thank Jefferson for his blocking. The Hokies’ offensive line also had a good afternoon against the Hurricanes.

“I have no problem being the fullback, blocking for him and he getting all the glory,” said Jefferson, who sat out the season opener against Alabama on Sept. 5 for violating team rules; he was arrested for driving while intoxicated on Aug. 16. “That’s my position. I don’t need to be in the spotlight.”

The nature of Jefferson’s position is unique, he said, because “you have to have the vision of a tailback but you have to hit like a lineman.” Not only that, but Jefferson has to have a special relationship with each of the running backs. He has to know their tendencies.

For example, Jefferson says, Williams will set up blocks by making moves in the backfield that lure linebackers into easy position to be kicked out or sealed off. By dipping his shoulder a certain way or making a particular cut, Williams helps open up holes naturally.

Running back Josh Oglesby, Jefferson says, likes to follow more closely. With a hand on Jefferson’s back, Oglesby often directs Jefferson where to block and then breaks free. Oglesby allows Jefferson to bulldoze a path, and he follows it.

Against the Hurricanes, Jefferson initially came into the spotlight for the wrong reasons when he dropped a pass on third down for what would have been a first down on the game’s opening possession. But after the initial mistake, there were other times when he was a crucial component of the Hokies’ offensive success.

“It’s a team effort, so I wouldn’t call myself an unsung hero,” Jefferson said when asked if he viewed himself that way. “I’m just doing my part, and I’m doing my best.”

By Mark Viera  |  October 1, 2009; 11:45 AM ET
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Cool. I comment on Kenny as an extra Oline guy yesterday, and voila! He gets his own piece.

but seriously, Good FBs seem to be rare these days, but this guy is like a bowling ball going through pins. I'm predicting a Kenny TD on Saturday.

Posted by: jhtlag1 | October 1, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

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