Virginia Tech junior says he will leave for NFL

Wednesday, December 3, 2003

Virginia Tech running back Kevin Jones will pass up his final season of college eligibility to enter the NFL draft, his father and the team's running backs coach told The Associated Press on Tuesday night.

"He's coming out," Thomas Jones said in a telephone interview from his Chester, Pa., home. Kevin Jones did not immediately return several messages left on his cell phone, but Virginia Tech called a news conference for Wednesday for the announcement.

Coach Frank Beamer also did not return a message left at his office, but running backs coach Billy Hite said Jones' stature made his decision very easy.

"I told him going into the season that if he was going to be a No. 1 draft pick, he needed to go," Hite said in an interview from him home, adding that he met with Jones and Beamer for several hours Monday and Tuesday. "It's a no-brainer."

Jones, a 6-foot, 221-pound junior projected as possibly the top running back in the draft, has rushed for a school-record 1,494 yards this season, averaging 5.6 yards for 265 carries. He has scored 20 touchdowns and caught 10 passes for 136 yards.

"Next year could be even better, but I'd like him to take it to the next level and get better, and that's what he's going to do," Thomas Jones said, adding that the decision is the product of discussions that have been evolving throughout the season.

"At one point during the season we were saying top 10. If not that, then come on back," Thomas Jones said. "Then you start really thinking about it, and the chance of being a first-round draft pick is a great honor anywhere. When that's on the table with the chance of being injured, you just can't pass that by. It's time to move on."

Jones said late in the season that he was unsure what he would do and wanted to wait until after the bowl game to decide, but his father said he's been pretty certain his son would make himself available for the draft since the middle of the season.

"We started getting some pretty good feedback from sources we've got," he said. "'Continue to do this, continue to do that and things are going to look right.'

"It's the fruit of all his labor."

Chiefs assistant denies contact with Nebraska

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Al Saunders, an offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs, said he had not been contacted by Nebraska about the job as head football coach.

Saunders' name has surfaced in media reports in Nebraska as a possible replacement for Frank Solich, who was fired last week.

"I have not been contacted by any official from the University of Nebraska," Saunders told The Associated Press. "Beyond that, I really don't know what to say. I'm busy trying to figure out how we can beat the Denver Broncos this week."

Saunders, 56, has been offensive coordinator under head coach Dick Vermeil for three seasons and is famed as an innovative thinker. The Chiefs have been one of the most powerful offensive teams in the NFL the past two seasons.

His resume as a collegiate assistant includes stops at Southern California, Missouri, Utah State, California and Tennessee.

Elsewhere

  • Boise State accepted a conditional bid to play TCU in the inaugural Fort Worth Bowl on Dec. 23. If the Big 12 gets two teams in the Bowl Championship Series as expected, the league won't have enough bowl-eligible teams to send a team to Fort Worth. That would create an at-large spot for No. 18 Boise State, the WAC champion.

  • Clemson coach Tommy Bowden agreed to a three-year contract extension that will keep him with the Tigers until 2010 with unprecedented buyout clauses: If Bowden is fired before 2005, Clemson will owe him $4 million. And if Bowden leaves on his own before then, he'll owe the school the same amount.

  • Florida State athletic director Dave Hart apologized for his team's part in a postgame brawl after the Seminoles' victory Saturday at Florida. He pledged that measures will be put in place to make sure it doesn't happen again.

  • Iowa State football coach Dan McCarney fired assistants Steve Brickey and Marty Fine. Brickey was the offensive coordinator, while Fine coached the offensive line and special teams.

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