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Player Convictions Spark Big Questions

Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:41am
By: Accsports Staff

  May 24, 2004 BLACKSBURG — When Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer watched freshman quarterback Cory Holt take his first snap from center in the spring football game, drop back one step and land flat on his rear end, the graying gridiron guru might have gotten a little grayer. Holt might be Beamer's backup quarterback some day soon …maybe real soon. Not in 2005, not next spring, but perhaps in the fall of 2004. Of course, it won't get any worse for Holt than it was on that first play, but it will have to get a lot better in a hurry if the future gets any cloudier for Marcus Vick, Tech's backup QB of the moment. Vick's career at Tech is on life support. After being convicted May 14 of three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor, Vick was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a $2,250 fine. The charges stemmed from a Jan. 27 incident at the Blacksburg apartment of Vick and Tech receiver Brenden Hill involving three teenage girls, one of whom testified that Vick had sex with her 15-year-old friend and provided all three girls with alcohol. Vick was found not guilty of a fourth count of the misdemeanor regarding "sexual misconduct," despite the above testimony and a police detective's assertion that Vick had admitted during an interview to having sex with one of the young girls. Vick and his lawyer, Marc Long (who has defended numerous Tech athletes over the years), are appealing the verdict, but the appeal won't be heard in Montgomery County Circuit Court until at least mid-July. Hill and tailback/kick returner Mike Imoh also were convicted of three counts of the same charge and were sentenced to jail time and fines. Like Vick, Hill and Imoh are appealing the verdicts. Jim Weaver, Tech's athletic director, broke his silence May 17 and said the three players will be disciplined by the athletic department. He didn't provide details on whether the disciplinary measures would include suspensions from practices or games or even dismissal from the team, but he said the punishments would be obvious to outside observers. "Although these matters are on appeal, the athletic department remains disturbed and disappointed over these actions," Weaver said in a released statement. "Accordingly, I will levy sanctions this coming season. I will be monitoring the appeal process, but if there is no resolution before the season begins, disciplinary measures will be enforced." Though Weaver's statement addressed the issue, it left wiggle room for an athletic department that seems as if it doesn't know how to handle this situation. If Vick is cleared of the charges on appeal, will he be forced to sit out a game and promise never to be bad again? Or if the convictions are upheld, will Tech decide to cut its ties to Vick? Is Weaver holding back on announcing sanctions for fear that they could affect a jury in an appeal case and spawn a lawsuit against the university in the long run? Regardless of the legal outcome, most agree that there ought to be a significant punishment for Vick and the other players. Only eight days after Beamer's mid-January plea for responsible behavior, the three Tech players figuratively laughed in their coach's face and literally ignored his demands. Vick picked up the three 14- and 15-year-old girls in his Cadillac Escalade at midnight on a Friday after they climbed through a window at the house where they were staying. The Tech players then provided the girls with alcohol, watched them get drunk, and filmed and photographed them as they performed various lewd acts. According to one of the girls, all three Tech players had sex with the girls. In addition to exhibiting horrendous judgment, the Tech players brought further embarrassment on a program that still has some lingering image concerns left over from an ugly arrest-filled stretch in the 1990s. Now everyone is wondering: Exactly what is the punishment for all of that? The legal system has spoken. Soon, it'll be Weaver's turn. Quarterback Rotation A Concern The bottom line is that if all goes poorly for Vick, Holt and fellow freshman quarterback Sean Glennon will have to play beyond their years in the fall. Holt, who actually made his second appearance in Lane Stadium in the spring game after playing in the fall against Tech's junior varsity team while a student at Hargrave Military Academy, got a huge headstart by participating in spring practice. Make no mistake. Holt, a 6-4, 208-pound native of Lexington, N.C., can flat-out fling it. He displayed nice touch on his deep passes in the spring while working behind senior Bryan Randall and Vick, a sophomore. He also has good footwork in the pocket and some scrambling ability. With a redshirt season under his belt, and a year to work in strength coach Mike Gentry's weight room, Holt even could develop into a Daunte Culpepper-esque talent in the best-case scenario. But Holt may not have the luxury of time. If Vick is out of the picture, Holt will be pressed by Glennon, a 6-3, 185-pounder from Centreville, Va. Glennon was one of Tech's most highly regarded signees in February and like Holt has an exceptionally strong arm. Both players obviously lack experience. Holt showed in the spring that he has a long way to go, especially where making reads is concerned. Of course, those reads would be a lot easier for Randall, Holt, Glennon, Vick or whoever plays quarterback at Tech if the receivers weren't all neophytes. If freshmen Justin Harper, Josh Morgan and redshirt freshman Josh Hyman all keep developing at the rate they did during the spring, Tech's top receivers all could be first-year performers this fall. Let's see. Two freshman backup quarterbacks. At least three first-year receivers, not including much-anticipated freshmen Jeremy Gilchrist and Eddie Royal. Those are the kinds of numbers that don't bode well when your first game is against Southern California, the defending co-national champions. "I think we've got as much talent as we've ever had, maybe more," Beamer said. "We're just so daggone young. We've got a lot of work to do between now and USC. How quickly we get (better) is the question." Vick was supposed to compete for the starting job this spring. Based on what he did on the field in April, which had many observers scratching their heads as to why he was participating in spring practice to begin with considering he had the impending trial hovering over his head, Vick was ready to challenge for the starting job. But Vick has more critical challenges in his way before he stares down Randall. Beamer, offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring and quarterbacks coach Kevin Rogers will have an impossible workload in early August if Vick is unavailable. If it comes to that kind of situation, Vick not only will have let himself down, but his teammates, too. Many would argue he already has achieved that end. Some may consider maturity to be a concern at backup quarterback if the Hokies are forced to go with two freshmen at the position. However, considering the mess Vick has gotten himself into, maturity was already an issue. Even Vick admits that. "On the field, I think I have (matured)," Vick said following the spring game. "But off the field, I think I've still got a ways to go."