Today is July 28, 2019, which means we are officially just 34 days away from the Virginia Tech Hokies opening the college football season at Boston College. Yesterday, we looked back at a Virginia Tech Hall-of-Famer in linebacker Mike Johnson. For No. 34, we profile one of the greatest running backs in Virginia Tech history; Ryan Williams.
Williams, a four-star prospect from Stonewall Jackson High in Manassas, committed to Virginia Tech in January 2008. One of the top running back prospects in the nation, Williams was considered the No. 2 overall prospect in the state of Virginia in 2008 and fourth-ranked running back nationally, according to 247Sports.
Williams redshirted in 2008, because the Hokies had another stud in front of him in Darren Evans. Tech also had the reliable Kenny Lewis behind Evans in 2008.
In 2009, Evans was set to be the starter, but unfortunately he was injured and the door opened for Williams. Williams had a special season. He started all 13 games for the Hokies, breaking Kevin Jones’ school record 1,647 rushing yards. Williams ran the ball 293 times for 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns. He averaged 5.6 yards per attempt and also caught 16 passes for 180 yards and another score.
Williams was named to the All-ACC first team and won ACC rookie of the year. He arguably should have been named the league’s offensive player of the year, too.
In 2010, Evans returned as did sophomore sensation David Wilson. The Hokies had what most considered the most talented backfield in the country and certainly the most talented in school history. Sadly, things don’t always go as planned as Williams injured his hamstring early in the season and missed several games.
While he did return, Williams rotated more with Evans and Wilson. Overall, Williams played in 10 games, making five starts and finished fourth on the team in rushing with 477 yards and nine touchdowns. Behind Tyrod Taylor and the three outstanding running backs, the Hokies won another ACC title by defeating Florida State in the ACC title game before falling to Stanford in the Orange Bowl.
After the Orange Bowl, Williams announced his intentions to skip his final two seasons of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft. He was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the second round (38th overall) in the 2011 NFL Draft. In a preseason game before his rookie, Williams ruptured his patella tendon in his right knee and missed his rookie season. Williams worked hard to return in 2012, but injures struck again and he went on injured reserve in October with a shoulder injury.
Williams was released in 2014 after three injury-filled seasons with the Cardinals. He played in just five games for Arizona. He did sign with the Dallas Cowboys in 2014, where he was released and re-signed to the practice squad. Williams would be released again in 2015 and that would be the end of his NFL career.
Williams was a terrific Hokie who gave fans one of the most memorable offensive performances in Virginia Tech history. That stretch of Williams, Evans and Wilson is one Hokie Nation will never forget.