Suggs, a 6'4", 220-pound native of Powder Springs, Ga., played in seven games for Tennessee in 2000 but decided to transfer when it became apparent that Casey Clausen, also a freshman at the time, was the Vols' quarterback of the future. This spring Suggs is battling with redshirt freshman Damarius Bilbo to become Georgia Tech's starter. The Yellow Jackets will employ the same offense under coach Chan Gailey that they used last season with coach George O'Leary, and Gailey says Suggs and Bilbo are so talented that he can envision alternating them.
"I really wish things had worked out at Tennessee, but I'm happy where I am now," says Suggs. "I have two years ahead of me to prove I can be a winner at this level. I can honestly say if I could do it all over again, I'd do the same thing."
Miami's Young Secondary
Greener than The Everglades
National champion Miami has a flaw that's irritating defensive backs coach Mark Stoops. At times this spring the young, athletically gifted group that is replacing 2001's dominant secondary played with an intensity befitting a first-period P.E class. "It's 180 degrees from last year, when the defensive backs motivated the team," said Stoops last Thursday. "These kids need to grow up, and fast."
The Hurricanes lost five defensive starters from last year's 12-0 squad, and no area was hit harder than the secondary, where three seniors—free safety Ed Reed, strong safety James Lewis and cornerback Mike Rumph—and junior corner Phil Buchanon (an early NFL draft entry) departed. That foursome accounted for 20 of Miami's 23 interceptions last season and set an example by doing voluntary push-ups after lackluster performances.
By contrast me six players now vying for spots in the secondary-including juniors Alphonso Marshall and Maurice Sikes and sophomores Antrel Rolle and Sean Taylor—don't have a single college start among them and sometimes appeared to be spaced out in drills. "I thought I saw a hunger in their eyes early in March, but after a couple scrimmages I wasn't so sure," says Stoops. "The receivers took it to us, and we sat around looking at each other."
Heartened by improved coverage and focus in Miami's April 6 spring game, Stoops hopes that some of his backs, especially playmaker Taylor, can be effective come fall. "The thing is, we expect our defensive backs to be more than good," says Stoops. "A standard of dominance has been set."