Vick Declares For The NFL
By Jimmy Robertson
January 11, 2001

Virginia Tech will be in the market for a new starting quarterback next season.

Surrounded by his mother, father, other family members and his high school coach, Tommy Reamon, Michael Vick confirmed what most Tech fans feared when he announced Thursday that he was forgoing his final two years of collegiate eligibility and declaring himself for the NFL Draft. Vick made his intentions known at a news conference held at The Boys and Girls Club in Newport News, Va.

"I'm excited about playing in the NFL," Vick said. "It's like a dream come true for me.

"The whole time in Jacksonville, I thought about what I really wanted to do. It was a tough decision. But I had to think about what I wanted to do in life and about my goals. I thought about whether I wanted to go ahead and pursue my goal of playing in the NFL and I think this is the best decision."

"It was long, tough process. Me, being a 20-year-old, it was the toughest decision I've had to make in my life. Hopefully, I made the right decision. All I can do is move forward. I can't move back."

Vick - who showed up at the news conference in a luxury car accompanied by his brother, Marcus, and Tech cornerback Ronyell Whitaker - told the media at the news conference that he actually made the decision a couple of days ago. On Tuesday, Vick, his mother (Brenda Boddie) and one other unknown person were in Blacksburg and stopped by the registrar's office in Burruss Hall to pick up a transcript of his grades. Part of the NFL's procedure for underclassmen declaring early is to submit a transcript along with a letter letting the NFL office know of the player's intentions.

Vick said the fear of getting injured weighed heavily into his decision. He cited the problems of former UVa safety Anthony Poindexter, who saw his stock drop after injuring his knee his senior season. That injury cost Poindexter, now with the Baltimore Ravens, millions of dollars.

"I had to look at it from a lot of different aspects. Maybe I would have had an injury that was career-ending," Vick said. "Maybe I would have had an injury that would have hampered me for two or three games and caused my stock to drop.

"A lot of things came into play. I had to think deeply about it. The opportunity presented itself and I have to take advantage of it."

The San Diego Chargers hold the first pick in April's NFL Draft and most NFL people think Vick will be the first player taken. As a result, Vick likely will command a $50 million contract with a $11-to-$15 million in up-front bonuses. Noted agent Leigh Steinberg reportedly told Vick he could get the Hokies' quarterback a $20 million signing bonus. Contrary to reports, Vick hasn't signed with an agent, ending speculation that he had signed with Steinberg.

The Chargers, though, need to decide what to do with current quarterback Ryan Leaf. If the Chargers cut Leaf or trade him, they will still be accountable for nearly $4 million against the salary cap.

But both Bill Polian, the GM of the Indianapolis Colts, and Charley Casserly, the GM of the expansion Houston Texans, told Vick during a teleconference last week that there was a good possibility that the Chargers would trade the pick, leaving Vick in a tenuous state. If Vick is not picked first, then he would not be picked probably until fifth by Atlanta because the three teams in that stretch do not need a quarterback.

Regardless, Tech head coach Frank Beamer and his staff support Vick and his decision. Both Beamer and assistant coach Jim Cavanaugh, who recruited Vick, attended the news conference.

"We were fortunate enough to have the greatest player in the country for two years," Beamer said. "We'll always have a place in our hearts for him. He's such a great individual and those are the types of people you don't want to part with. But I know all the Tech fans are behind him. We all hope he's the No. 1 pick."

Beamer and his staff now go about getting a quarterback ready for spring practice. Vick's backup, Dave Meyer, graduates, leaving redshirt sophomore Grant Noel and redshirt freshman Jason Davis as the only two quarterbacks on the roster.

"It's a great opportunity for myself. I've got some big shoes to fill, but I'm going to make the best of this situation," Noel said. "I'm surrounded a great group of players and coaches who will help me get better.

"I have to have a good winter workout session and get ready to go in the fall. My main objectives are to get my body and arm stronger and to prepare myself mentally for next fall.

"My mindset's going to be different from here on out. I'm going to have to change my lifestyle a bit and get ready to go. I'll have to concentrate a lot more and focus more of my attention on football. But it's a great opportunity and I'm looking forward to the chance to compete this spring and next fall."

Vick becomes the third Tech football player to leave school early for the professional ranks. Ike Charlton and Shyrone Stith left after last season and were chosen in the second and seventh rounds, respectively, of the NFL Draft.

Vick completed 87 of 161 passes for 1,234 yards, with eight touchdowns and six interceptions during the regular season. He completed 10 of 18 passes for 205 yards, with one touchdown and one interception in Tech's 41-20 win over Clemson in the Gator Bowl.

Vick also rushed for 617 yards and eight touchdowns during the regular season. In the Gator Bowl, he rushed for 19 yards and a score.

Tech went 20-1 with him as the starting quarterback.

"I want to thank my teammates for all their support," Vick said. "Without them, this would not be possible. I want to thank all the Tech fans too. I want them to know that I will always be a Hokie."