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Williams named ACC rookie of the year

Sharon Johnson said many of her co-workers at Deloitte & Touche in McLean are Virginia Tech football fans. Often they stop by her desk to talk about her son, Ryan Williams, a Hokies running back.

From Blacksburg to McLean, Williams has delighted Hokies fans across the state in his remarkable debut season. From Boston to Miami, he has haunted the Atlantic Coast Conference with his equally hard and elusive running style. And on Tuesday, Williams was named the conference's rookie of the year by members of the news media.

"This is something that is totally unexpected, but feels great," Williams said in a statement. "I have to give a lot of credit to the offensive line and the wide receivers and the fullbacks because they helped pave the way for a lot of the stats I got this year."

Williams was perhaps the only person surprised by the announcement. He received 34 votes from 40 voting members to edge out Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly, who had 29. Separate votes were held for the offensive and defensive awards, and those vote counts were combined to determine the overall award winner.

"He's deserves it; he's had a great year," Hokies running backs coach Billy Hite said Tuesday in a telephone interview. "I couldn't see anybody else getting it but him."

Williams ran for 1,538 yards this year, breaking the ACC’s freshman rushing record of 1,265 yards set last year by his teammate Darren Evens, who is sitting out 2009 with a knee injury suffered in August. Williams is only 110 shy of breaking Kevin Jones’s single-season school record (1,647 in 2003). He is fourth in ACC single-season history, needing 95 yards to move into third place past Maryland’s LaMont Jordan (1,632 yards in 1999).

On Monday, Williams became the first freshman to make first-team all-ACC since the Hokies joined the conference in 2004. He was the first Virginia Tech freshman to be named first-team all-conference since Michael Vick was voted to the all-Big East squad in 1999.

Williams grew up playing sports at a nearby playground in Newburgh, N.Y., where he grew up before moving to Manassas and attending Stonewall Jackson High School. Although he moved away from New York, he said the area helped shape his sensibilities. He has a New York accent and plays with grittiness learned at a young age. And he always wanted to be the best, evidence by the stars tattooed on his left forearm.

"Anything, I did I wanted to be the best at it," Williams said in October. "When I played basketball, when I played track, I always wanted to perform for people. I always wanted to be the exciting person on the field."

This season, Williams has been exiting, with nine 100-yard games. Williams has an ACC freshman-record 20 touchdowns. And he has a penchant for big plays, ripping off touchdown runs of 66, 57 and 32 yards this season. He has proven to be a scintillating runner with a rare blend of speed, strength and shiftiness.

"As far as performing," his mother said in a telephone interview in October, "he’s always been like that, whatever Ryan does."

And on Tuesday, she and the Hokies fans at her workplace will have a new topic of conversation about her son. But now there is not much more room for debate: Ryan Williams is the best freshman in the ACC.

By Mark Viera  |  December 1, 2009; 1:20 PM ET
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What a well-deserved honor for Ryan Williams. He's had a great season, and is a great asset to Virginia Tech.

Posted by: postfan1 | December 1, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

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