Prospect of the Week: Lee Suggs
Breaking onto the scene as a red-shirt sophomore in 2000, the exploits of Lee Suggs did not go unnoticed by NFL scouts even though the main attraction of the Virginia Tech Hokie attack was another ball handler, quarterback Michael Vick. Breaking the century mark rushing, Suggs totaled 1207-yards and amassed an amazing 27 touchdowns with an equally impressive 5.7 yards per carry.
Hopes were high in 2001 as Suggs was expected to be the focal point of the offense and carry the load during his junior campaign. Off to a sizzling start during the season's initial contest against Connecticut, Suggs accounted for 99-yards on 12 carries (8.2-yard average) as the game moved into the third quarter before tearing an ACL and MCL in his left knee, which immediately brought his year to a grinding halt.
After a long rehabilitation process Suggs seems to be back in the saddle in 2002, running roughshod over opposing defenses, yet the stiffest competition he faces may come from his own teammate, super sophomore Kevin Jones.
Looking as though he's feeling no ill-effects from the knee injury and surgery that followed, Suggs is 44-yards from once again breaking the 1000-yard plateau, continuing to show a nose for the end zone with 14 rushing scores. His speed is evident as are his running instincts and from here on out it may be Suggs alone that carries the ball against stiff competition as Virginia Tech finishes out the season.
A skilled ball carrier, Suggs combines both the physical and mental abilities scouts want in a feature runner at the next level. Quick and elusive, he displays great footwork with the ability to immediately cut back on a dime and leave defenders grasping at air. Amazingly light on his feet, Suggs looks as those he's gliding on the surface of the football field and has the ability to dust opponents in one step with an exceptional burst of speed. Fast through the hole or outside of tackle, he translates sprinter-type speed (Suggs has run a forty in the low 4.3's) onto the football field. Athletic skills aside, Suggs is also a running back with great vision, patience and a ball carrier that sets up and follows his blocks at the line of scrimmage or down the field. Ball security is also a forte' as he has not lost a fumble in almost 250-carries. Were there a criticism of his game it would be a lack of power in his running and size for the interior (barely 210-pounds) coupled with a void when asked to be a receiver out of the backfield. Then of course the MRI results on his injured knee must also be factored in.
With teammate Kevin Jones possibly out the next four weeks with a strained left hamstring, Suggs duties go from sharing the ball in the backfield to being the feature runner and what an opportunity for the senior. This week Virginia Tech goes up against Big East foe Syracuse, a team struggling through a terrible campaign and owner of the league's worst defense but a program that offers Clifton Smith, one of the better run defending linebackers in the nation and the conference leader in tackles.
A week later its' West Virginia before taking on the Cavaliers of Virginia and their pair of tackling machines; Angelo Crowell and Merrill Robertson. Finally they make a trip down south to take on rival Miami in the Orange Bowl.
In the end, positive results during the final week's of the 2002 campaign coupled with a good post season showing could push Suggs towards the middle of round one and solidify his spot as the top senior ball carrier available next April.