July 26, 2005

All eyes on Vick

HOT SPRINGS, Va. - The picture that his teammates and coach paint of Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick is quite different than the one that's portrayed almost everywhere else.

Vick will open the season as the Hokies' starter and his checkered past seems all but forgotten in Blacksburg.

"I can't really say that I have concerns about Marcus," said Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer during the ACC Kickoff on Monday afternoon.

Of course, that wasn't always the case.

It was at this same event last year that Beamer and Virginia Tech released a statement announcing that Vick had been suspended from the university after a series of off-the-field missteps.

First, the younger brother of NFL star Michael Vick, was suspended in the fall of 2004 after he was arrested, along with teammates Mike Imoh and Brenden Hill, for giving alcohol to 14- and 15-year-old girls. He avoided jail by pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge and a fine in September.

Then last July, Vick pleaded guilty to reckless driving and no contest to marijuana possession after a stop by police. As part of a plea agreement in that case, Vick was placed in a drug offender program that required him to perform 24 hours of community service, undergo drug counseling and random drug tests and give up his driver's license for six months.

That led to the suspension from all university activities last summer. Vick re-enrolled at Virginia Tech this past January and then performed well enough in spring drills to earn the starter's role and replaced 2004 ACC Player of the Year Bryan Randall.

Now Vick, whose talent has never really be in question, will enter the season as the starter and Beamer has seen a tremendous improvement in Vick in non-athletic ways.

"He's been working at his leadership skills. A quarterback needs to be a leader. That's so important and it seems to me that he's doing the things that are needed to be a good leader," Beamer said.

In 2003 during his redshirt freshman season, Vick split time with Randall and was 30-of-57 for 475 yards with two touchdowns and five interceptions.

According to tight end Jeff King, Vick has continued to impress in summer drills and workouts and he too has little apprehension with Vick leading the team into the season.

"You know, Marcus made some bad decisions and he has to live with that. He is back in good standing with the school and his teammates and everyone," King said. "He's a great player and very talented. I think he will be successful this season."


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