Ryan Williams and Darren Evans discuss their future
The last time running back Ryan Williams discussed his NFL prospects, following the Hokies' win over Georgia Tech, he said he was trying his best not to think about it and to ask him again around the Virginia game.
Well, we're just a few days away from the battle for the Commonwealth Cup, so we reporters didn't hesitate when Williams came to the podium during Tuesday's news conference. Will he leave after this season for the NFL draft now that he exploded for 142 yards, including a 84-yard touchdown run in which he ran away from a Miami secondary that also features several future draft picks?
"Can you tell me I'm gonna be a first-rounder?" Williams asked with a laugh. "I've thought about it. Like I told you before, if I stay for another year, it'll be beneficial, but I still have an opportunity to leave this year. The thought lingers around because I'm eligible, but I personally didn't have the season that I wanted to leave. Before the season, the thoughts were really there, and then I got hurt with a torn hamstring and everything of that sort. The season I had wasn't what I wanted, and I know my stock really dropped. As of right now, I really don't know."
Williams's situation creates an interesting dilemma for Virginia Tech fans. If he continues to show the burst and vision that were on display in the Hokies' 31-17 win over the Hurricanes last weekend, it's a boon for Virginia Tech during its final three games.
But if Williams is able to string together consecutive 100-yard performances, NFL scouts will surely take notice and the third-year sophomore product could be out of Blacksburg after just two seasons on the field.
Williams emphasized Tuesday that he likely would return to college if he didn't get assurances that he'd be a first-round NFL draft pick. It sounds like, at the very least, Williams is going to put his name into the NFL's advisory committee after the college season is over so that he can get a reading on what NFL personnel officials think about his draft status.
"It'll make me feel a lot better about my decision if I'm a first-rounder," Williams said. "That's guaranteed money and stuff like that. That's a dream come true since I was seven years old. I probably would take the opportunity if somebody was like, 'Yeah, we're going to take you in the first round,' but I'm not going to sit here and lie to myself and say I'm a first rounder after the season I've had. We'll just see how everything falls out."
Williams set an ACC freshman rushing record a year ago gaining 1,655 yards. He has just 404 yards rushing and seven touchdowns this year after missing four games because of his hamstring injury. He's come on strong of late, despite splitting carries, and declared his hamstring as close to 100 percent as it's going to get this year.
"The pressure about leaving or thinking about the NFL, there's really no pressure, no pressure at all to me," Williams said. "I'm just doing what I do. I'm balling, and when the time comes for me to make a decision, then I'll talk to the people I need to talk about and then I'll make my decision. But for now, I'm not thinking about that. I'm focusing on this week."
As for the Hokies' other tailback who is eligible to leave after this season, junior running back Darren Evans has more than just himself to consider when harboring thoughts of an NFL future. He has a wife and child to think about.
Evans has proven definitively that the torn ACL he suffered before the 2009 season is a non-factor now, and his combination of size of speed projects well to the next level. But Evans's stock may be hurt because of the Hokies' three-tailback rotation. Even with Williams sidelined in the middle of the season, Evans has rushed for more than 100 yards just once this season, and hasn't had more than 15 carries in any game.
Like Williams, Evans said his immediate thoughts don't center on the NFL but there is a possibility he leaves after this season if it's the right move for his family.
"I'll just be weighing out my options," Evans said last week. "Because I didn't play last year, I want to show people more so I can try to be as big a factor as I can. As far as the end of the year, the thing about it will just be I'm gonna have to make the best decision for James [his son] and Taneesha [his wife] because those are the ones I'll affect the most."
| November 24, 2010; 9:54 AM ET
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