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Even though Marcus, a righthander, is the more accurate passer, Michael, a lefty, has the superior mechanics. "Mike throws the ball better than anybody, strictly in terms of delivery," says Virginia Tech quarterbacks coach Kevin Rogers. "This guy [Marcus], he'll drive you crazy sometimes [with an inconsistent release point], but the ball goes where it's supposed to. Things don't have to be perfect for him to be accurate. He can throw it off his back foot or running sideways, and still put it on the numbers." It's that ability that has given rise to the theory that Marcus is the better all-around quarterback. He has the speed and the strength to run nearly as well as Michael when necessary, and he's more patient and consistent than his brother when he stays in the pocket.
Against BC, Marcus hit receivers in stride with nearly unerring accuracy. In his approach to the game he exhibited the kind of prudent decision-making that he hasn't always shown off the field. After a redshirt freshman season in which he showed spectacular flashes in a backup role, Vick sabotaged what would have been his sophomore season with a series of legal scrapes.
In February 2004 Vick, Imoh and defensive back Brenden Hill were arrested and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor after a party with underage girls at Vick's apartment. Vick pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor count in September of that year and received a 30-day suspended jail term, was fined $100 and ordered to perform 24 hours of community service. (Imoh and Hill also avoided jail by pleading no contest to one count.) By that time Vick had also been arrested on charges of reckless driving and possession of marijuana. He pleaded no contest to misdemeanor possession of marijuana and guilty to reckless driving, was fined $300 and agreed to perform another 24 hours of community service. In August 2004, a month after the second arrest, the university suspended him for the fall semester, and Vick's sophomore season, in which he was expected to battle senior Bryan Randall for the starting job, was over before it began.
Vick spent part of his exile completing his community service at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Hampton Roads in his hometown of Newport News, Va. Although he played touch football and talked with the kids, he didn't get away with just an extended celebrity appearance. He swept floors, wiped tables and cleaned locker rooms. "He and I agreed that it wasn't going to be some vacation for him," says Pooh Johnson, the director of the club. "He did everything we asked of him, willingly."
When Vick wasn't working at the club, he split his time between the Suffolk, Va., home of his mother, Brenda Boddie, and Michael's place in Atlanta, trying to keep his mind off what he was missing. Michael offered his brother one piece of advice while they were housemates: Slow down. "He told me I don't have to be out in public all the time," Marcus says. "It's O.K. to stay home and chill out. That's what I've tried to do." Teammates attest that Vick has been much less visible on the social scene this season. "He's matured a lot from going through all of it," says Williams.
Vick can still be headstrong--he responded to taunting fans at West Virginia earlier this season with a middle-finger salute, for which he later apologized--but the Hokies don't expect perfection from him overnight, even if he expects it from himself. "I can play better," he said after his sterling performance against Boston College. "My goal is to play better against Miami than I did tonight." If that happens, the Hokies will ratchet up the pressure on USC, Texas and the BCS system, not to mention Virginia Tech fans. The next time Marcus and Michael are together and an autograph seeker wants the signature of the best quarterback to come out of Blacksburg, which Vick will he pick?
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