Jones officially bids farewell
By Jimmy Robertson
December 3, 2003 Watch the entire press conference on Even after sleeping on it, Tech tailback Kevin Jones still woke up feeling good about his decision.

Flanked by his family in a cramped room filled with reporters and TV cameras, Jones officially told the nation that he planned on forgoing his senior season at Tech and making himself available for the 2004 NFL Draft. Jones becomes the fourth Tech player ever to leave school early, following on the heels of quarterback Michael Vick, tailback Shyrone Stith, and cornerback Ike Charlton

"I didn't know early in the season, but I was definitely thinking about it," Jones said of leaving early. "I was discussing it with my dad and my mom every other week. I just came to the decision a couple of days ago after meeting with my parents and Coach Hite and Coach Beamer.

"I love it here. I love my coaches and my teammates. But at the same time, I thought it was time for me to move on, too."

Jones' decision came on the heels of a fantastic junior season in which he set the Tech single-season rushing record. His 1,494 yards shattered the previous mark of 1,403 yards set by Cyrus Lawrence in 1981. He also set a single-season record by rushing for 100 yards or more in eight games.

The Chester, Pa., native averaged 134.5 yards per game and scored 20 touchdowns this season - third-highest single-season total ever at Tech. His best game came at Pittsburgh, where he rushed for a school-record 241 yards.

"I hate to see good people leaving," Tech head coach Frank Beamer said. "I'd like to compliment mom and dad because they've raised a heckuva guy. I really like the way he's gone about this season. He's been unselfish and he's gone out and done his job great.

"And this is a great statement about Virginia Tech. We were able to recruit this caliber of back and hopefully he's not going to be the last one. I think it makes a great statement. We appreciate him being here and wish him the best. I really appreciate how he's handled things this year, I can tell you that."

Jones came to a decision after meeting with running backs coach Billy Hite, Beamer and his parents. He decided to make the decision now to prevent any distractions as Tech prepares for its bowl game. The Hokies play California on Dec. 26th in the Insight Bowl in Phoenix.

"I thought it was the best time," Jones said. "I had made that decision to get it out now, so it wouldn't be a distraction at the bowl game. I didn't want people asking me [in Phoenix] 'What are you going to do? What are you going to do?' I thought it was best to get it out of the way now."

Jones, a 6-0, 221-pounder, made the decision because he felt he was ready for the NFL. Also, the injury factor played a part in Jones' decision.

"That definitely weighed into it," Jones said. "You never know what will happen. The opportunity is here now and it's the best opportunity for me. If I do get hurt, I'll be hurt and getting paid at the same time."

Jones is projected to go in the top 10 or the top 15 of the NFL Draft depending on which service one looks at. His departure after this season sets up a battle for the tailback spot heading into spring practice with Cedric Humes, a 6-1, 232-pound redshirt sophomore, and Mike Imoh, a 5-7, 185-pound sophomore, figuring to be the front-runners.

"This program's going to go on," Beamer said. "We're going to miss Kevin, but this program's going to go on and be good, and be good for a long time."

Jones recently earned All-America honors by the Football Writer's Association of America and he is the first Tech back to be named a finalist for the Doak Walker Award. He currently has 3,322 yards rushing for his career, and is 137 yards behind Roscoe Coles (3,459 yards) and 445 yards behind Lawrence (3,767 yards).