Today is August 9, 2019, which means we are officially just 22 days away from the Virginia Tech Hokies opening the college football season at Boston College. Yesterday, we profiled former punter Nic Schmitt, from nearby Salem High School. For No. 22, we stay in the Roanoke Valley, this time looking back at one of the best offensive players in Virginia Tech history in Lee Suggs.
Suggs arrived at Virginia Tech in 1998, as a part of what has become known as one of the better recruiting classes in school history. In addition to Suggs, that class also included Michael Vick. Suggs was considered a four-star recruit and played his high school football at William Fleming in Roanoke. During his senior year in high school, Suggs rushed for a whopping 2,918 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Known for his outstanding speed, Suggs also had plenty of size, standing over six feet tall and weighing around 200 pounds. He redshirted his first year on campus in 1998 and provided depth on the 1999 team that played in the national championship. Suggs played in every game in 1999, rushing for 136 yards and scoring twice.
Suggs was set for a much larger role in 2000, with Shyrone Stith departing for the NFL. Suggs took advantage of his opportunity, playing in 11 games, leading the Hokies in rushing with 1,207 yards, averaged 5.4 yards per carry and scored 28 touchdowns. Yes, he scored 28 touchdowns, including 27 on the ground and one receiving touchdown.
Suggs returned in 2001, only this season he would have some competition in the backfield. Kevin Jones was the nation’s No. 1 ranked recruit and he wanted to be a Hokie. It was a nice problem for Frank Beamer. Fans dubbed the duo “The Untouchables,” but unfortunately Suggs injured his knee in the opening game of the season and was lost for the year. It was after he had rushed for 99 yards on 12 carries and scored two touchdowns. Jones would go on to have a strong debut campaign.
Suggs recovered from knee surgery and set out to have a special season in 2002. He didn’t disappoint. Coaches platooned Suggs and Jones and Suggs still ran for 1,325 yards, averaging 5.2 yards per attempt and rushed for 22 touchdowns. He also caught 11 passes for 126 yards and two additional scores. So, despite platooning with Jones, Suggs still posted one of the most historic seasons in school history.
For his career, Suggs rushed for 2,767 yards on 535 attempts. He averaged over five yards per rush for his career and scored an amazing 56 touchdowns. Keep in mind, Suggs truly only played two full seasons. Imagine if Suggs would not have been injured in 2001. He left an indelible mark on Virginia Tech’s record books. He holds both the individual and career record for rushing touchdowns. And despite playing just two full seasons as the primary running back, Suggs is still No. 6 on Virginia Tech’s all-time rushing list.
Suggs also set some NCAA and Big East records, too. He scored a touchdown in every game in 2002, which had never been done before. Suggs also scored a touchdown in 27 straight games, another NCAA record. That streak began in September 2000 and ran through December 2002.
Suggs was honored with a spot in the Virginia Tech Hall of Fame in 2014. He was a two-time All-Big East selection and was an All-American in 2000. He was drafted in the fourth round by the Cleveland Browns where he would spend three seasons. He showed plenty of promise with the Browns, but battled injuries before Cleveland waived him. He was picked up by the Miami Dolphins where he was for a month before Miami released him. That would unfortunately end Suggs’ NFL career.
After his playing career ended, Suggs got into coaching. He coached at Oberlin College and was most recently at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.
Suggs, much like Jones, is one of the best players in Virginia Tech history. As Hokie fans, we were spoiled getting to watch the two of them operate in the same backfield for parts of two seasons. While Tech has had some outstanding running backs, Suggs, along with Jones and David Wilson, are probably the three best in school history. Cyrus Lawrence and Ryan Williams were pretty special, too, but what Suggs and Jones did in the early 2000s will forever be tough to match.