Business as usual
Hokies' Randall says he's not worrying about backup Vick
Posted: Tuesday August 19, 2003 3:18PM; Updated: Tuesday August 19, 2003 3:18PM
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Bryan Randall has majored in ups and downs at Virginia Tech since being perceived as the next Michael Vick.
As the Hokies' quarterback last season, early ineffectiveness in the passing game prompted speculation that his future might be as a wide receiver or defensive back once Vick's kid brother, Marcus, was ready to take over.
Then, as Randall grew into his role, a Big East-record 504-yard passing performance at Syracuse allowed the playbook to be expanded, opening things up and creating a late-season offensive explosion.
Randall, a native of Charleston, W.Va., finished with 2,134 passing yards and 507 on the ground, his 2,641 total yards ranking as the second highest total in school history. He threw for 12 touchdowns but also had 11 interceptions.
Now, with Marcus Vick having bulked up in the weight room and boned up on the playbook as a freshman, Randall is facing a challenge for his job, but one he's far more prepared to fight off than he was a year ago.
"I just want to come out here and take care of business and do what I can do," Randall said. "I know he's out here and he's trying to take my job, and I'm trying to keep it.
"If I get to worrying about him, I'm not worrying about myself, so I've got to worry about me and everything else will work out."
Randall is listed among the candidates for the Davey O'Brien Award as the best quarterback in college football, but the Hokies coaches are clearly intrigued by Vick's potential and eager to let the two battle.
"They know and we know that what happens on the field is going to determine what decisions are made after that," coach Frank Beamer said.
"For now, Bryan's No. 1 and Marcus is No. 2 and let's go practice and make decisions as we go. That's it right now."
Vick, who has added 25 pounds since arriving as the most heralded sibling in Virginia Tech history last fall, is at the point in his career where brother Michael emerged as the Hokies' electrifying leader.
After redshirting as a freshman, Michael Vick led the Hokies to a 22-2 record in two years and the 1999 Sugar Bowl national championship game.
"Last year I didn't really know anything. I was a little young freshman. Now, I'm a little smarter, bigger," Marcus Vick said.
"I think they expect a little more of me."
The Hokies started 8-0 last season, then faded when their defense faltered and Randall showed a propensity for turnovers.
Several Hokies now say they trust both quarterbacks and aren't too concerned with which one plays, as long as the team is winning.
"I have a lot of respect for what Bryan did last year, and with very little blocking," said center Jake Grove, the Hokies' best lineman.
"He just got waylaid a few times and stepped up in the pocket on the next play and threw the ball again.
"Saying that, if Marcus is a better quarterback, I'm with Marcus. I just want to win football games. That's all I care about and all this team cares about -- the quarterback that gives us the best opportunity to win."
The only difference between the two, wide receiver Ernest Wilford said, is in experience. Vick has never taken a snap in a game that counts, but has often wowed everyone with skills like his brother during practice.
"He jumped over a guy and flew into the pile and it was like, 'Whoa, that looks familiar,"' Grove said, comparing the younger, right-handed Vick to his sprinter-fast, laser-armed, left-handed brother.
But Vick is quick to say that he's not Michael.
"All the things he did here, it was great, but I'm a whole different person. I'm not going to jump over anybody, first of all, and the 70-yard laser, I don't know about that, either," he said.
The Hokies are eager to know what Vick can do, and while they don't envision a two-quarterback system, they plan to give him a chance early in the season, not necessarily in a mop-up role.
"Marcus has shown signs of greatness," said quarterbacks coach Kevin Rogers, who agrees that Vick would have to outplay Randall considerably when he plays in a real game to take the job.
But, Rogers adds, "The only way we'll find out is when the lights go on and he gets in a game and we see what he does when it counts."