One wears No. 34 and runs like Walter Peyton. The other wears No. 25 and reminds people of Reggie Bush. One has scholarship offers from all over the country. The other will soon have. One is considered by most to be the greatest running back in school history. The other may soon dethrone him.
This season, Stonewall Jackson's Ryan Williams and Damien Thigpen form the scariest one-two running back punch in the state – if not the nation.
"They're very talented athletes," Stonewall Jackson Coach Loren Johnson said. "They've both put in a lot of time in the weight room and have dedicated themselves to the game."
Williams is the third ranked player in the state by Rivals.com and is considered the 55th best player in the nation from the Class of 2008. Just last week, Thigpen – the 300-meter state champion in VHSL Group AAA – was named a five-star recruit by Rivals.com, and is projected as one of the top 100 players in the nation from the class of 2009.
"What I like the most about them is that they're both good kids," Johnson said. "They'll both do anything to help the team. They're just special kids."
Besides spending numerous hours in the weight room, Williams and Thigpen have become students of the game. They've spent countless nights together watching old game film and studying retired players such as Peyton and Barry Sanders.
"I love those guys, because that's my style," Williams said. "I'm kind of a dancer. I like to spin and make people miss. Damien, he 's more like a Emmit Smith. He just makes one cut and goes."
The two are good friends, but they've got two totally different mentalities.
"I would like the ball on every play, where Ryan doesn't care how many carries he gets," Thigpen said with a chuckle. "I know we are better off with Ryan in there, but I'd still like the ball more."
Last season, Williams led the Cedar Run District in running with more than 1,500 yards and scored 19 touchdowns. Thigpen ran for 605 yards on just 84 carries and scored seven times.
Williams predicts that Thigpen will set the school record for rushing yards in a season next year.
"He could get 2.500 yards next year," Williams said. "He won't have to split carries, so next year he's going to be awesome."
Both would like 2,000 yards in 2007, but winning is there first priority.
"We just want to win the district," Williams said. "If I get 2,000 yards or 100, I don't care, I just want to win."
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