Cavalier Corner

October 2017

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OCTOBER 2017 19 feel like we have enough weapons, and guys will develop as they get older. With the new guys we brought in, we have the talent and the personnel to get the job done." The offense in 2016 was triggered many times from the backfield production. Miz- zell and Reid were sparks to an attack that featured a couple quarterbacks in Kurt Ben- kert and Matt Johns. Benkert, a fourth-year, is the familiar face returning for 2017. His new running backs have a goal of looking like his old ones. "Like Smoke and Al before us, I feel like we're interchangeable," Ellis said. "I feel like Hamm can come out the backfield. I can, too. We both can block pretty well, and both can make something happen in the run game. "I feel like we complement each other well. We're just competing against each other every day, trying to make this team win. "I feel like we can do some things to make those explosive plays and make our offense better this year." If it happens, know it was all dreamed about in a hotel room a year earlier. "It's really exciting to actually be a leader on the offense and a major contributor on the offense," Ellis said. "Hamm and I push each other and com- pete against each other to make the of- fense better and ultimately make the team better. "We really just want to win any way we can and play our roles to the best of our ability." The Cavaliers hope that when they look back on the 2017 season, the combina- tion of third-year Jordan Ellis and fourth-year Dan- iel Hamm proves to be one of Virginia's better running back tandems. If the duo can manage the sort of production head coach Bronco Mendenhall and his staff believes it can, it'll put Ellis and Hamm into a pretty exclusive club of top backfields at UVA. Terry Kirby and Nikki Fisher, 1989-91 — In the late 1980s and early '90s, many people around the ACC remember the num- bers that Kirby put up, but Virginia fans also recall the role Fisher played in helping push the program forward. Kirby went on to have his No. 42 jersey retired after a stellar career from 1989-92, during which he rushed for 3,348 yards and was a three-time All-ACC selection. Fisher, meanwhile, rushed for 2,143 from 1988-91 and led the country in rushing yards per attempt in 1990 (7.0), the same year Kirby first led the league in rush- ing yards (1,020). That sea- son, they each ran for more than 100 yards in the same game twice. Billy Copeland and David Sloan, 1973-76 — The two products of Lane High School in Charlottesville also teamed up during their time at UVA. Copeland ran for 2,051 yards during his four-year career from 1973-76, leading the Cavaliers in rushing as a first-year when he was also the ACC's Rookie of the Year. Sloan, meanwhile, rushed for 1,567 yards during the same stretch and led the team with 848 rushing yards in 1976. Antonio Rice, Howard Petty and Barry Word, 1983-85 — This trio overlapped in the early '80s to form a strong nucleus on the ground for the Wahoos. Rice, who led the team with 764 rushing yards in 1982 and finished with 1,726 in his UVA career (1982-86), combined with Petty to get the ball rolling. While Petty (1983-85) led the team on the ground in 1983 and 1984, it was Word's ACC-best 1,224 yards in 1985 that paced the Cavaliers and earned him the league's player of the year award. Tiki Barber and Thomas Jones, 1996 — This was arguably the best duo in school history — the two native sons of the Com- monwealth each led the ACC in rushing during their careers — though Barber got the bulk of the work during the one season they were together. Barber, who played for the Cavaliers from 1993-96, finished with 3,389 career rushing yards, surpassing Kirby's previous school record. Barber compiled an ACC- best 1,360 yards on the ground during his fourth-year season, while Jones contributed 205. Jones (1996-99), a Big Stone Gap native, led the conference during his third-year (1,303 yards) and fourth-year (1,798) seasons en route to breaking Barber's school record with 3,998 rushing yards — a mark that still stands today. Barber can say he had more 100-yard rushing games than Jones (19-18) as a Hoo, though. Each of the Welsh-era backs went on to have solid NFL careers following their time in orange and blue. — Brad Franklin TOP BACKFIELDS AT UVA Tiki Barber (pictured) teamed up with Thomas Jones in 1996 to form argu- ably UVA's most talented backfield ever. The duo combined for 1,565 yards that season and finished their Wahoo careers with a combined 7,387 rushing yards. PHOTO COURTESY UVA

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