News With Commentary by TSL Staff

Wednesday, December 3, 2003
by Will Stewart,

Kevin Jones Declares for the NFL

One day after broke the news that Kevin Jones was going to declare himself eligible for the NFL draft, Jones himself verified the news at a 1 p.m. news conference. The news conference was attended by Jones, head coach Frank Beamer, and running backs coach Billy Hite.

Jones began by thanking Beamer, Hite, the other VT coaches, and the university. "Virginia Tech has been very special for me, and something I'll cherish forever. I thank them for allowing me to come play at such a special place, and hope I represented Virginia Tech and all associated with it. I'd like to thank the fans, who are the best fans in the country. Playing in front of 65,000 every game and having them cheer us on is one of the things I'll miss the most."

Jones also thanked his teammates, singling out the offensive line and fullback Doug Easlick, saying that he enjoyed, among other things, "being a college student with them."

In a moment of levity, Jones thanked the media for, during his time at Tech, "not twisting my words up too much. I thank you all for that."

He then made his official announcement:

"I called this press conference today so we could focus on the bowl game with Cal and not have my decision be a distraction for our team. With that said, it's time for me to take the next step in my life and make my intentions known. I'll be leaving Virginia Tech after this season and entering into the NFL draft."

Jones said that he started thinking about leaving for the NFL early in the season, but that he didn't come to his final decision until a few days ago, after talking to the VT coaches and his parents. He said it was difficult, because he loves it at Tech and loves his teammates.

"It was a tough decision. I love the area. I didn't want to leave Coach Beamer. He's the best coach I've ever had in my life."

Jones said that he will return to Tech in the spring. "I'll be working out, or something like that. I'm not sure," he said, implying that he won't be taking classes. Jones said he doesn't know how many credit hours he needs to finish his degree -- as a true junior, it's probably quite a few -- but said that he does plan on getting it some day.

Jones said that he had told some of his teammates, but not all of them, about his decision, and the ones he talked to told him congratulations.

Jones declined to say if he knew whether or not teammate DeAngelo Hall, also a junior, was going to go pro, but that he had talked to Hall "throughout the whole season."

Jones admitted, when asked by a reporter, that fear of injury was part of the equation, should he return for his senior year. "You never know what's going to happen, and the opportunity is here and now, and it's the best opportunity for me." Jones said with a small chuckle that if he were to get hurt next year, his decision to go pro means that, "If I do (get injured), I'll be hurt and getting paid at the same time."

He said that he wanted to make his announcement now so that it would not be a distraction to the team as it prepared for the bowl game, and when asked if there was any particular NFL team he wanted to play for, he said, "It doesn't really matter. My favorite team is the Eagles, that's my home team, but it doesn't really matter where."

Jones indicated that he has been told that he will go in the top 10 or top 15 in next year's draft, but he also acknowledged that there are no guarantees. One web site,, projects Jones as the #3 pick, going to the Detroit Lions.

Hite, who witnessed Shyrone Stith departing for the NFL a year early, against Hite's wishes, supported Jones' decision all the way. "It's a sad day for Virginia Tech, but it's a great day for Kevin Jones and his family," Hite said. "I personally feel he's the best back to ever play for Virginia Tech, and he has a great future ahead of him. Being selfish, I'd like to have him back for another year, but with the future he has ahead of him, I feel like he's making the right decision, and I want to wish him the best of luck."

Beamer said, "I hate to see good people leaving. I like the way he's gone about this season. He's been very unselfish, went out and did his job and did it great. It's a great statement about Virginia Tech, that we were able to recruit this caliber of back, and hopefully, he's not going to be the last one. It just makes a great statement about Virginia Tech. We appreciate him being here and wish him the very best. I really appreciate how he's handled things this year, I can tell you that.

"The money is so great (in the NFL), and if you're at that level, you've got to do what's right for you at that time," Beamer responded, when asked about the difficulty early departures create for college coaches. "I think that's just part of it. Our program has had some people leave early, and Kevin won't be the last one. The other side of it is, you take great pride in your program that it has that sort of players."

When asked what advice he gave Jones, Beamer made the room erupt in laughter when he said, "I told him to stay!" Beamer added, on a more serious note, "When people come through here and do it the way Kevin has, you want the very best for them. This program's going to go on. 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 was asked if his experience at Virginia Tech was everything he thought it would be when he chose the Hokies over Penn State almost three years ago. "The coaches treated me well. I love all the coaches here. They fed me the ball. That's basically all I wanted, was to come here and have a good season and try to be the best I could be."

Jones said he will play in the Insight Bowl against California. Despite only starting for one season, he is currently third on Tech's all-time career rushing list, with a chance at finishing second, depending upon how he does in the bowl game. Jones currently has 3,322 yards rushing for his career, and is 137 yards behind Roscoe Coles (3,459 yards) and 445 yards behind Cyrus Lawrence (3,767 yards). He already holds the Virginia Tech record for yards rushing in a season (1,494) and yards rushing in a game (241, vs. Pittsburgh this season).


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