Freshmen Begin Tech Careers
Group go through two sessions on first day
July 31, 2002

BLACKSBURG - Football season officially got under way Wednesday morning when 29 Virginia Tech football players participated in the first day of freshman practice, taking part in two sessions.

The group took the field at 9 a.m., for an hour and a half session that introduced the players to their respective positions and new coaches, focussing on fundamentals and learning the Tech system.

The highlight of the practice came at the end with the receivers going one-on-one against the defensive backs with quarterbacks Marcus Vick and Ivan Larrymore providing the passes. Vick showed accuracy and a strong arm in the final period, impressing head coach Frank Beamer.

Several players stood out in the drill, including walk-on Michael Malone, a 6-2 receiver who made several nice catches. Malone is the son of NBA great Moses Malone. Fred Lee and Brenden Hill also made several nice plays. Defensively, Jimmy F. Williams, Brian McPherson and Cary Wade made several breakups and showed good coverage skills.

The first session ended with 10, 110-yard sprints where Mike Imoh consistently led the backs. Brandon Gore and Chris Burnett led the pack among the linemen.

Several local television stations showed up to capture the newcomer's first practice in the maroon and orange and talked to Beamer, Vick, McPherson, Malone, Imoh, Jonathan Lewis and Darryl Tapp.

When asked about the condition of strength coach Mike Gentry, who was injured in an motorcycle accident Monday night and is improving, Beamer replied "All I know is he's late for training camp. Maybe we'll make him run some sprints! No, but he's doing better and we're looking forward to having Coach Gentry back here at practice."

Vick had several members of his family in attendance, including his mother, Brenda Boddie.

"This is so exciting," Boddie said. "We're so happy Marcus is here and I can't believe he's in college now. I know we're all looking forward to coming back to Blacksburg for games."

Beamer, too, is excited about Vick's arrival.

"For the most part, Marcus was very accurate today and that's a great place to start," Beamer said following the second practice. "When you have accuracy there, everything else will come."

Vick's new position coach, Kevin Rogers, also had high praise for his new pupil.

"I thought he did a great job today," the new coach said. "He is everything we thought he'd be and he appears to be very coachable. He wants to be a great quarterback and he has a great work ethic. For a young guy, he has great footwork and accuracy. I'm tickled with him already and it's only been one day."

Vick said he is just happy to get the first day over with.

"I was a little nervous coming in and I think it showed," Vick said. "I felt I made huge strides from the morning practice to the afternoon one. For me, I have to learn how to recognize different defenses and coverages. That's just part of the job. But it'll come and I'm excited to be finally be here."

Lewis slightly injured his left hamstring on his second 40 yard sprint Tuesday night and will require a couple of days of therapy before he is 100 percent and ready to go. He wore the blue jersey Wednesday, signifying limited contact. Noland Burchette, Robert Parker and Luke Dales also saw limited action on the first day due to injuries.

The players gathered again for a second session, which began at 4:45 in the summer heat of Blacksburg. After a stretching session, the players went through many of the same drills before breaking for the night. The offense worked mostly on pass skeleton drills while the defense worked on schemes and coverages. Kickers Nic Schmitt and Brandon Pace worked on field goals and onside kicks.

Both Burchette and Parker took the green jerseys off and practiced with the team in the second hour and a half session. Burchette ended up re-aggravating his hamstring injury late in the second practice. Parker was held out of the first practice while the medical staff double-checked on an old injury to make sure he was medically cleared. He came back and impressed Beamer with several athletic plays.

While he had no freshman linebackers to work with, defensive coordinator Bud Foster said he was pleased with the defensive group he has to work with.

"This is a very athletic group," Foster said. "They are motivated and have a lot of football intelligence. As a group, they want to be great and I think these are the type of players we've been looking to bring in to get us to that next level. There are a lot of great football players in here for camp."

Beamer echoed those sentiments, saying he was pleased with his new players after one day.

"They worked hard and their attention was very good," Beamer said. "This is an excellent start for this class."

The group returns to action Thursday for two more practices before going through academic orientation on Friday. The returning players report on Friday, as well, and the team will practice for the first time as a full unit on Sunday.