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RB Ryan Williams expected to play vs. Duke

After missing four consecutive games with a right hamstring injury, Virginia Tech sophomore running back Ryan Williams is expected to return to the lineup Saturday against Duke, according to running backs coach Billy Hite.

"I think he's ready to play," Hite said following Tuesday's practice. "I thought he was really good yesterday and I thought he was even better today. He made some cuts ... and he looked like the old Ryan Williams today. I’ll ask him again on Thursday, ‘Are you 100 percent?’ and if he says yes then you’re going and playing. Right now I think he’s leaning that way. I think he feels he’s that close to it."

Williams was first injured during the second quarter of Virginia Tech's Sept. 18 win over East Carolina. Hite said if Williams plays Saturday, he'll only be on the field for "a couple of series," because his conditioning has suffered after missing so much practice time.

Hite said junior Darren Evans will get the start, but emphasized that he didn't think Virginia Tech has a clear-cut starter at running back right now. Sophomore David Wilson is also expected to get some carries after rushing for 105 yards last week against Wake Forest.

“As far as I’m concerned, the ones we’ve been playing with have done a helluva job," Hite said. "I don’t think the roles are gonna change a whole heckuva lot. You’re gonna end up seeing three guys out there on that field. Until somebody proves me wrong, then I think that’s the way it’s gotta be. Those other two guys deserve to be out there as much also. ...

“[Evans and Williams] are tied at No. 1 but I’m gonna start Darren in the ball game. It’s the same thing when Darren came back after missing last year. I don’t think a starter ever loses his position because of an injury. So that’s why I had both those guys tied. ... I feel that’s the fair way to do it and then they battle it out and see who gets it. To me, it’s not important who starts the game, it’s who finishes the game."

Last season, Williams set an ACC freshman rushing record when he gained 1,655 yards and scored 22 touchdowns. The Manassas native has 139 yards and three touchdowns so far this season. In his place, Evans has rushed for 411 yards and eight touchdowns, while Wilson has gained 406 yards and is averaging a team-high 6.8 yards per carry.

By Mark Giannotto  | October 19, 2010; 7:37 PM ET
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