Vick Tells Everyone He's Staying - Again
By Jimmy Robertson
December 15, 2000

Tech head coach Frank Beamer today received an early Christmas present and it was perfect gift.

Tech quarterback Michael Vick put to rest all the rumors floating around about his status when he once again announced his intentions on returning to Virginia Tech next season. Vick made the announcement Friday at Tech's bowl press conference held in the Merryman Center.

"I just wanted to make sure everyone knew that this was definite, that I am coming back for another season," Vick said. "I talked it over with my mom, Coach [Tommy] Reamon [Vick's high school coach] and several of my family members and we made a decision that is the right decision.

"I say that because I think I have some things to work on. Coach [Rickey] Bustle [Tech's offensive coordinator] and I agree on that. I just want to get better as a person and a player. And when it's time for me to go on to the next level, I'll be ready."

Vick, a redshirt sophomore, announced in early October that he planned on coming back to school for another season. But recently, his name had been mentioned as one of the top NFL draft prospects. In fact, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported last Sunday that the San Diego Chargers wanted to take Vick with the first pick. Thus, the rumors, which already were swirling, reached a crescendo.

But Vick had grown tired of the rumors and the questions concerning his status. So after meeting with his family and his high school coach and talking things over Beamer and Bustle, he reiterated his intentions and hoped to alleviate the questions as Tech gets ready to head to Jacksonville for the Gator Bowl match-up with Clemson.

"I'm getting it off my chest," Vick said. "I'm glad me and my family came down with a definite decision. And I think it is the right one. I'm going to stick with my decision and prepare myself to be the best player in the country next year.

"I hope that I've got everything off the table now. Once I go to Jacksonville, I want my life to be easier. I don't want the questions to be asked as many times as they were last year. I just want to move forward."

Vick cited many factors in making his decision to stay in school. First and foremost, he wants to be a better passing quarterback. This season, Vick completed 87 of 161 passes for 1,234 yards and eight touchdowns. But he also threw six interceptions and his efficiency rating was far below last season's. Granted, he suffered with an injured ankle which hampered him late in the year, but he still didn't play to his expectations.

"A couple of times, I made mistakes in the passing game and those are some areas that I need to work on," Vick said. "That's one of the reasons I'm coming back. I want to be consistent. That's what I did as a freshman. But some times this year, I was inconsistent."

Vick also wants to graduate with some of his fellow classmates, guys like Emmett Johnson, Lee Suggs and Ronyell Whitaker.

"That's one of my goals," Vick said. "I'm going to try as hard as I can to fulfill that goal. I want to get my diploma in the spring of next year. I want to come back and be a better student-athlete and do better in school."

If Vick does return to Tech next season - the deadline to declare for the NFL Draft is Jan. 12 - then he forfeits the opportunity at making a huge chunk of cash. A quarterback taken with the top pick could command a guaranteed contract worth in excess of $50 million. Despite the obscene amount of money, Vick's decision seems definite.

"When I talked with him, money never came up," Beamer said. "That's why I appreciate him so much. I never made a decision based on money and he didn't. If you make a decision based on money, then you're going in the wrong direction. Besides, there will be more money next year or the year after. That salary cap is never going down.

"I told Michael I would check with every NFL team, if that's what he wanted. But it never got to that point. Michael knows he needs to get better and gain some experience. He made a mature decision and I like that about him."

"It was just something inside me telling me to come back next season," Vick said. "I was excited about the thought of being a first-rounder. But me as a person, I just felt I had some things to come back and work on. This season was up and down for me, and when I do leave, I want to go out with a bang.

"Right now, though, I'm looking forward to going to Jacksonville and having a great game. You're going to see a different player and a different person. It all starts now."

Beamer and company received even more good news. Receiver André Davis, a redshirt junior, also reiterated his decision to stay in school. Tech's big play threat missed parts or all of the final five games with heel and ankle injuries.

And Suggs, another redshirt sophomore, said he had no plans on turning pro. Suggs, a third-team All-American by the Associated Press and the BIG EAST's co-offensive player of the year, rushed for 1,200 yards and scored 28 touchdowns, leading the nation in scoring. He also recently was listed as the No. 3 tailback among underclassmen by NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper.

"Not after seeing what happened to Shyrone [Stith]," Suggs said when asked about turning pro. "Last year was his first year as a starter and he dropped way down in the draft. This was my first year as a starter and I know I had a good year, but I never gave it any thought."

The returning of all three players gives Tech fans and Beamer a lot to look forward to next season, particularly with most of the top talent returning.

"We've got the best player in the country coming back," Beamer said. "We've got a team that we think is going to be good."

Then he added with a smile, "I think Christmas is going to be a little longer for us this year."