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|Welcome to TSLMail #107 - Friday, December 5, 2003||
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Project: Thank You, our annual player and coach appreciation effort that is directed by message board poster Nova Hokie 95, returns! Now in its sixth year, PTY is a player appreciation effort designed to acknowledge and show appreciation for the hard work of each and every player as they prepare for the bowl game with a simple thank-you note. Click here for the details and how you can sign up to participate.
As expected, Kevin Jones announced this week that he's going to enter the NFL draft next spring. We here at TSL applaud Kevin for his great career at Tech, and I personally feel that his departure for the NFL is a no-brainer. KJ has the physical tools to make it in the NFL, and if he continues to work and improve as he has during his tenure at Tech, he should be successful.
When a player departs the Virginia Tech football family, particularly one that goes pro early like KJ, we find ourselves pondering how brief his career was, and how much we'll miss him. I plan on putting together a column soon about KJ, who this season has really grown on me, both as a person and a player.
Three years ago, when Michael Vick left, I wrote a column called Goodbye Michael, We Hardly Knew You, which for some reason was one of TSL's more popular columns ever (I thought it was average work, but so be it). I was thinking that a star of KJ's magnitude deserves a similar send-off, so I promise you, I'll put my thoughts down before the news of his departure gets too cold.
But for now, I thought I would go through the fun exercise of listing my top 5 Kevin Jones games ever. Among the 35 games KJ has played for Virginia Tech, with one more to go (the Insight Bowl against Cal), there are easily five games we can find that Hokie fans will remember as part of the legend of KJ. Here they are:
Honorable Mention: Texas A&M, 2003 (30 carries, 188 yards, 1 TD); Boston College, 2003 (24 carries, 165 yards, 3 TDs).
#5. Marshall, 2002 (24 carries, 171 yards, 3 TDs): In a nationally televised game against a ranked Marshall team that featured Bryon Leftwich, Jones and running mate Lee Suggs played, "Can you top this?" Jones won, as both players carried the ball 24 times, but KJ outrushed Suggs 171 yards to 153, and outscored him three touchdowns to two.
#4. Miami, 2001 (24 carries, 160 yards, no TDs): Against the big, bad Miami Hurricanes, true freshman Jones flashed the ability that would make him a player on the national scene. Just one game after rolling up 181 yards against Virginia, Jones averaged 6.7 yards per carry against eventual national champion Miami, including breaking off two long option runs of 56 and 40 yards in a furious second-half rally that fell short. Jones was injured late in this one, and the VT offense, suffering through a five-turnover game from QB Grant Noel, faltered without him.
#3. Virginia, 2001 (37 carries, 181 yards, 1 TD): Against Temple the previous week, Jones went over a hundred yards (21 carries, 155 yards) for the first time, in his first career start. He followed it up the next week against Virginia with a dominating performance, averaging "just" 4.9 yards per carry but completely controlling the second half of the game, particularly the fourth quarter.
Virginia was in its first year under Al Groh, and this game in Charlottesville was one the VT coaching staff did not want to lose. VT bolted to a 31-0 lead, then gave it to KJ, who had 73 yards in the fourth quarter to lock down the 31-17 win. He was poised, he was patient, and he was powerful in this, his breakout game.
#2. Pittsburgh, 2003 (30 carries, 241 yards, 4 TDs): Jones put on a clinic against Pittsburgh, running with power, precision, and speed. He bowled over Pitt defenders like a pile driver in heavy traffic, and he ran away from them on an 80-yard TD run. What a shame his performance, which ranks as the single-game rushing record at Virginia Tech, was wasted in a loss.
#1. Miami, 2003 (26 carries, 124 yards, 1 TD): In the biggest Hokie win of the season, KJ ran like a man possessed, turning the corner on Miami defenders who looked like they were standing still, and handing out punishment and a fierce attitude to Cane defenders who tried in vain to intimidate him.
Jones only played two full games against Miami (he carried just 4 times for one yard in 2002), and he seemed to save his best for the Hurricanes, averaging 5.7 yards per carry against them in 2001 and 2003.
I had seen Kevin Jones make great plays, but this was the first time that he looked like a complete, ready-for-the-NFL back for an entire game. He has had more yards than this in a game eleven times, but I thought this was the game where he really put it all together, and I was awed by his leadership and his performance.
Rehashing these great games makes me wonder what else Jones could do, if he were to return for another year. But that's the nature of college football. The brightest stars burn brightly and all to briefly as they flash across the sky before moving on elsewhere. Good luck to KJ in the NFL!
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|TechSideline.com Updates From the Past Week|
The State of the Program, Part 1: The Season
Matthews Shines, but Hokies Lose OT Thriller
Hokie Hotline Notes for December 2, 2003
Hokies Team Up to Down ODU, 79-72
A View From the Road #2
Kevin Jones Declares for the NFL
2003 Virginia Game Analysis
Matthews Drops 36 on Morgan State, Hokies Win
Wide Right: Scribbles - It's B-Ball Season, Baby!
And Now the Hoos, Too
Hokies Headed to the Insight Bowl
Small Pleasures: Virginia
Tech Women Win Paradise Jam, 63-56
Hoos End the Streak: UVA 35, VT 21
Hoos Wear Out Hokies, 80-65
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