Today is August 6, 2019, which means we are officially just 25 days away from the Virginia Tech Hokies opening the college football season at Boston College. Yesterday, we profiled a walk-on-turned-All-American in Cody Grimm. Today, we are going to do things a little bit different because, well, it is a special number.
Earlier, we profiled Frank Beamer, the most famous No. 25 in Virginia Tech history. However, for the second half of our countdown we profile the greatest player to ever don the No. 25 jersey, Kevin Jones.
Jones arrived in Blacksburg back in 2001 as the highest-ranked prospect ever to choose Virginia Tech. The consensus five-star running back chose the Hokies over Penn State. Jones, from Cardinal O’Hara High in Springfield, Pa. Jones shocked the world—and the Nittany Lions—when he picked the Hokies. Jones picked the Hokies, in part due to Michael Vick elevating Virginia Tech onto the national stage. So, naturally, Jones picked Vick’s No. 7 upon arriving at Virginia Tech.
A fun fact about Jones choosing the Hokies is he was the first player who revealed his college choice using a prop such as a hat, jersey, etc. Now, that’s commonplace but it began with Kevin Jones. He tore off his sweater to reveal a Virginia Tech jersey underneath after he had pulled a Penn State jersey out of a bag. This was a special moment for the Virginia Tech football program.
As a freshman, Jones joined another Hokie legend, Lee Suggs, in what was arguably the best duo in the nation for two years. Suggs, unfortunately, injured his knee in Jones’ freshman year, opening the door for the true freshman to be Tech’s primary runner. He didn’t disappoint. He played in every game, making three starts. Jones led Virginia Tech in rushing with 957 yards, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and scored five touchdowns.
In 2002, Suggs returned and the Hokies were at full strength in the backfield and fans were excited. Suggs returning to his starting role, leading the Hokies with 1,325 yards rushing and 22 touchdowns. Jones played in 13 games, finishing second on the team with 871 yards and nine scores. He averaged over five yards per attempt once again.
Suggs was gone in 2003 and the job belonged solely to Jones once again. This is the season he changed jersey numbers from No. 7 to No. 25. He was amazing. He started every game, rushing for a then-school record 1,647 yards. He averaged almost six yards per attempt and scored 21 touchdowns. Jones also showed he could be a good receiver, finishing with 161 yards receiving, too.
Jones declared for the NFL Draft in 2004, with one season of eligibility remaining. He finished second on the all-time rushing list at Virginia Tech with 3,475 yards. He was just 292 yards behind Cyrus Lawrence in one less season. Had Jones returned for his senior season, he would’ve reached numbers that would have never been touched.
Jones was drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. He had an outstanding rookie season, becoming only the third Lion in franchise history to rush for over 1,000 yards. The only two players to previously reach that mark were Billy Sims and Barry Sanders. He rushed for 664 yards in 13 games in 2005. In 2006, he rushed for 689 yards. A foot injury plagued Jones in 2006, cutting his season short. He returned in 2007, playing in 13 games and running for 581 yards. Injuries again limited his production.
Detroit released him after that season and he signed with the Chicago Bears. He spent the 2008 season with the Bears. Late in the preseason of 2009, Jones would suffer a devastating ankle injury that would unofficially end his NFL career.
Jones would retire from football and return to Virginia Tech in 2011. He worked on his degree in industrial design, which he received in 2014. Jones became involved in the community upon his return to the New River Valley. In 2014, he was hired as an assistant to the athletic director and was involved in several projects. Jones helped design parts of English Field and the Merryman Center, according to Whit Babcock.
Jones received his MBA from Virginia Tech in 2018. He is the CEO and co-founder of Joba Design. He remains active in Blacksburg and is spending part of the summer helping out coaching running backs for Tampa Bay, where another Virginia Tech alum, Bruce Arians, is head coach.
Jones is one of my absolute favorite Hokies of all-time. How about you, Hokie Nation?