BLACKSBURG, Va., March 23 -- For the Virginia Tech football team, Wednesday was the first day of spring practice, a day to start preparations for the season ahead. Yet, for quarterback Marcus Vick, it was also a day to once again address his troubled past.
"I apologize to my family, my school, teammates, everybody that looked up to me," said Vick, 21, during a news conference after practice. "I was young. I'm just looking forward to the future. I realize you can't take life for granted."
Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick apologized to teammates on the opening day of spring practice.
(Matt Gentry - AP)
Vick was suspended in August for the 2004 season after being involved in two off-campus incidents. He was convicted in May of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, resulting from a party at his apartment on January 27 that included two teammates and three teenage girls. In a separate incident, he pled guilty to reckless driving and no contest to marijuana possession. He had been stopped for driving 88 mph in a 65-mph zone on July 3.
Vick, who spent time during his suspension in Atlanta with his brother, Falcons quarterback Michael, believes he has learned from his mistakes. He said he also received encouragement from Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson.
"I think about things first," he said. "I think about the consequences. I don't go out much. I'm not out there getting wild."
He admitted that he had been concerned that Virginia Tech would not grant him another chance. "Yeah, I was worried," he said.
It will be his last chance. When the school announced the suspension, it made it clear that if there is another incident, his career at Virginia Tech will come to an end.
His coach, Frank Beamer, spoke to the media after Vick and voiced his support.
"Marcus is a good person," Beamer said. "He made a couple of questionable decisions. He's worked hard as heck to get things right. He missed the people here. He missed football. He missed Virginia Tech. He appreciates what he's got here."
Yet Vick, who has two years of eligibility remaining, starts the spring as number three on the depth chart, behind holdovers Sean Glennon and Cory Holt. Vick, who claims he is faster than he was before his suspension, does not seem discouraged. It would seem that he has an excellent opportunity to improve his standing in the spring practices.
"When somebody wants something," said Vick, "you have to work hard for it, and that's what I'm going to do."
Vick sat out the 2002 season as a redshirt and spent the following year as a backup to Bryan Randall.
He threw for 475 yards and two touchdowns, with five interceptions. He also rushed for 102 yards on 37 carries.
Randall, who stayed in touch with Vick last season, is confident he will display greater maturity.
"I think Marcus has learned from what he's done, and the important thing now is to keep your nose clean," Randall said. "That's the way he's going to earn respect. Because I know, on the field, he's going to earn a lot of respect."