Only final touches remain for Hokies' bowl game with Clemson
Suggs wins team MVP award
December 30, 2000

On a brutally cold and windy Saturday, Virginia Tech held its final full-scale practice at Fletcher High School for the 56th annual Gator Bowl and the Hokies declared themselves ready for their New Year's Day match-up with Clemson. The only thing left for the Hokies is a brief walk-through Sunday at Alltel Stadium in which Tech plans to tidy up a few things on special teams and put the final touches on the gameplan.

The Hokies' declarations come after a week of uncertainty surrounding Michael Vick, who is wavering on his earlier announcement of coming back to Tech next season. Vick made that pledge on Dec. 15, but two days ago, he made comments that indicate he is re-thinking his decision. Those comments come after hearing several reports that the San Diego Chargers want to take Vick with the first pick in the NFL Draft in April.

"The more I hear that, the more it makes my decision tougher," Vick said. "That's been my dream since I was a young boy, since I started watching football. It's great to know I have that opportunity, that option, and I'll just have to make the most of it. If a lot of other people were in my situation, I'm sure they'd make the most of it too."

His remarks created quite a stir among the media and throughout the nation. Vick, who must make his intentions known by Jan. 12, then made a brief and vague statement to the media Friday, saying that "as far as my decision, nothing has changed." He fielded no questions afterwards and has been off limits to the media ever since.

On Friday, Tech head coach Frank Beamer refused to get into the issue, preferring instead to concentrate on Clemson.

"I think Michael was asked some things and he tried to answer them truthfully and they got all twisted around," Beamer said. "But I'm not going to get into this.

"I think what's important is that he prepares himself and plays as well as he can in the game. You have to get your mind on the game. If you're thinking about those other things, it's a distraction. He wants to play well. That's the way he wants it and that's what he's trying to do."

Tech conducted its normal game week "Thursday" practice in sweatpants and helmets. Temperatures in the Jacksonville area dipped into the 20s Friday night, and with the wind, temperatures were only in the 30s. The forecast for Monday's game calls for temperatures in the 50s.

"I don't think the weather is an issue unless it's very windy," Beamer said. "With the gear and clothes we have now, the cold shouldn't be an issue. I just hope it's not windy.

"I think we're ready. We've had a great week of practice. The kids have been focused and we haven't had any problems with curfew or anything like that. That tells me we have our minds where they need to be."

Suggs named team MVP: On Saturday afternoon, the Hokies held their awards banquet and tailback Lee Suggs was named the team's most valuable player as voted on by the team. Suggs led the nation in scoring, rushing for more than 1,200 yards and scoring 28 touchdowns, while earning third-team All-America honors by the Associated Press.

Other award winners include David Pugh (outstanding defensive lineman); Ben Taylor (outstanding linebacker); Ronyell Whitaker (outstanding defensive back); Matt Lehr (outstanding offensive lineman); Emmett Johnson (outstanding receiver); and Carter Warley (outstanding specialist). Suggs took home the team's outstanding offensive back award as well.

Former Hokies make appearance: Former Tech football player Eugene Chung, a resident of Ponte Vedra Beach, stopped by practice earlier in the week and gave the current group a pep talk after Beamer introduced Chung to the team. Chung played at Tech as an offensive tackle in the early 90s and was a first-round draft choice of the New England Patriots. After bouncing around the past few years, Chung currently is out of pro football.

On Saturday, both Corey Moore and Ike Charlton, two members of last season's squad, arrived at Fletcher High School. Moore, who earned All-America honors as a defensive end, started several games at outside linebacker for the Buffalo Bills, while Charlton spent the season as a reserve defensive back for the Seattle Seahawks.

"I kept up with these guys," Moore said. "I'm gonna make sure they don't slack up. I talk with Ronyell [Whitaker] and Larry [Austin] usually once a week or so just to see how things are going. But I know Coach Beamer and his staff won't let these guys slack."

Moore and Charlton were heading to Orlando to spend some time with Charlton's family. They then planned on coming back to Jacksonville on Monday for the game.