Jones excited about starting job
November 6, 2001

On Monday, Tech head coach Frank Beamer made a personnel change at one position in light of the Hokies' offensive woes the past two games, naming freshman Kevin Jones as the starting tailback in place of redshirt junior Keith Burnell. And Jones, the top-rated recruit nationally out of last year's class according to SuperPrep, got to meet the media Tuesday at Beamer's press luncheon.

"I'm ready," Jones said. "I've been waiting for it. Now I'm ready to step up."

"I think it's time," running backs coach Billy Hite said. "Kevin is going to be playing in front of his home crowd. I feel it's time to make a change. We've been very non-productive at the tailback spot the last two games.

"What we've done in the past is we've run the ball early in the game. Kevin broke five tackles against Pittsburgh on a couple of screen passes and I think that's the spark we need now. Maybe we can get something going in that first or second drive and make a big play, have a guy break a tackle. That's what we did in the first six weeks."

Burnell moves into the No. 2 role. He expressed disappointment at the decision, but to his credit, he plans on making the most of his opportunities.

"No one in the world is fond of losing their starting job, especially after when they've worked their butt off to get it," he said. "I'm going to go out there and work hard regardless. I'm just happy to get the opportunity to play. I want to start, but as long as I'm out there helping this team win, helping this team go 9-2 and to a bowl, that's the most important thing."

Tech has rushed for 90 and 15 yards, respectively the past two games. Hite joked that those performances have nearly been enough to make him start smoking again. He hasn't lit up in three months.

"One more loss, and I might take it up," Hite laughed. "That's what happened the last time [in 1995]. I went seven months and we lost our first two games. Then we won 10 straight when I started smoking again."