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Posted at 5:57 PM ET, 12/30/2010

RB Ryan Williams discusses his injury and the season

By Mark Giannotto

The last time Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams injured his right hamstring, he was carrying the ball against East Carolina and it resulted in a slight tear that eventually forced him to miss the next four games. His latest hamstring setback came from simply running conditioning sprints at the end of practice a couple weeks ago.

Williams, though, described this new injury as "minor," even though it's to the same hamstring and he doesn't expect to be 100 percent in time for Monday's Orange Bowl.

"It feels better every day," Williams said Thursday. "I’ve got to keep taking my medicine, but I’ll be out there. Ain’t no doubt about it; I’ll be out there ready to play. With the way things have been working, I’ll probably see two or three series so it really won’t be putting that much strain on my hamstring anyways.”

During the open portion of Thursday's practice, Williams ran wind sprints but did not participate in any actual drills. He still donned a blue jersey, meaning he was a limited participant throughout the practice session.

But perhaps the most interesting part of Williams's day came when I asked him a simple question during his media availability session. With the injuries he's had to overcome and the running back rotation now in place, is he having fun this year?

“What I enjoy is playing and playing a lot, so if that says anything to you," Williams said. "I’ve never been in a system where the most series you see is four. Never. So do I like it? I’m not gonna say I like it or I’m in love with it, but it works for the team and we win. That’s the bottom line, and I’m playing. That’s what I want to do; be able to contribute.

"But would I like to contribute more? Yeah. It works right now, so I can’t be mad at it. None of us are really complaining, but I bet I can speak for all of us and say we would like to be in there a lot more.”

Now, before you jump the gun and automatically assume that quote means Williams has one foot out the door on his way to the NFL, make sure you read this. Williams has yet to receive word back from the NFL's draft advisory board about where he would potentially go if he did leave school early.

On Thursday, he reiterated that he isn't even thinking about the NFL at this point, and won't consider it until after the Orange Bowl. Williams has gained just 473 yards and scored nine touchdowns this season after setting an ACC freshman rushing record a year ago.

He's also realistic that the only player from Virginia Tech to ever leave school after their redshirt sophomore season was Michael Vick. Williams believes this latest setback will only perpetuate the belief that he isn't durable since he's only had one full season as a starter.

"I really hope he gets better because it’s been a different game when it’s only been two of us instead of all three of us," running back Darren Evans said, also referencing sophomore David Wilson. "Just for him, because that’s my boy and everything, I want him to play.”

Stanford defensive coordinator Vic Fangio would agree with that sentiment. While none of Virginia Tech's three tailbacks has gained 1,000 yards this season, both Evans and Wilson are averaging more than 5.5 yards per carry. Evans has 817 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns; Wilson has 616 yards and five touchdowns.

Here's what Fangio had to say about the trio:

"I don't know if there's another team in the country that has three backs of this quality, and I think all three of those backs will be in the NFL some day. What's impressive about their backs is that they run hard, they've got the speed to bounce it outside, but yet they're inside the tackle runners also. These guys move the pile after contact. You'll see them -- the contact made, coming at the 25-yard line, but the guy doesn't miss the tackle but all of a sudden the ball is at the 29 if they're coming out of their own end or it's at the 21 if they're going in. These guys bleed you for the extra three, four yards a lot of times when it's not really a missed tackle. They're dragging the guy three or four yards. To me that's the mark of good running backs that have been well coached to run hard with their pad level and their intensity."

By Mark Giannotto  | December 30, 2010; 5:57 PM ET
 
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