At the start of Virginia Tech's fall football practice this week, quarterbacks Sean Glennon and Cory Holt trotted onto the practice field and into a future neither anticipated when they accepted scholarship offers last year. Both are freshmen and anticipated being redshirted this season, learning the complexities of the offense and gradually working toward earning game-day minutes in a year or so.

"I was 100 percent sure I'd be redshirted," Glennon said.

That started to change in early July. That's when the Tech athletic department suspended backup quarterback Marcus Vick indefinitely after he was arrested on misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and possession of marijuana. That followed his conviction in mid-May on three misdemeanor charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

So Holt and Glennon sensed that those redshirt plans might well be shredded for one of them. Then on Tuesday, Vick was suspended from school for the season, so during preseason drills,the freshmen are battling for the unnerving possibility of having to run the Tech offense if starter Bryan Randall gets hurt.

"Now, it's getting ready for the big stage," Holt said.

Added Glennon, "The stress and urgency to pick up things is definitely increased."

Quarterbacks coach Kevin Rogers explained the dilemma.

"I really felt that both guys were probably going to need two years to get prepared," he said. "Now it's four weeks. That's the hand we've got. That's the one we're going to play. . . . Obviously, we've got a lot of work to do."

That sense of urgency to which Glennon alluded was emphasized when Coach Frank Beamer said a decision about the No. 2 quarterback would be made "fairly fast." The season opener against Southern California, the near-unanimous preseason choice as the country's No. 1 team, is Aug. 28 at FedEx Field.

"I believe the second guy has got to get a lot of snaps right now," Beamer said. "It may come down to a gut feeling."

Holt and Glennon have glittering resumes. Holt accumulated more than 6,000 yards of total offense at Lexington (N. C.) High and prepped last fall at Hargrave Military Academy, while Glennon earned all-America honors in leading Westfield High to the Virginia AAA Group 6 state title.

Right now, Holt has the edge -- and it may well be enough to tip the backup decision his way. That's because he enrolled at Tech in January and participated in spring drills. For him, the transitional fog all quarterbacks go through is much less thick. He's even being trusted with a few checks at the line of scrimmage.

"At first, I didn't know what was going on," he said, referring to the spring. "Now things are starting to click a lot better."

Glennon enrolled at Tech for the second semester of summer school. But all he was able to do was hit the weight room, take part in voluntary workouts and learn whatever he could from Randall. Sweating and out of breath at times after his first college practice, he said, "An experience . . . the speed of the game . . . totally different from high school . . . got to learn to adjust."

Rogers praised Holt's accuracy, then added, "He doesn't always throw it to the right place."

Rogers is much less familiar with Glennon.

"He's smart, had over 1,300 on his SAT and appears to want to be a great player," Rogers said. "He never takes anything for granted. He'll stop you and ask what something he doesn't understand means."

Rogers also reminds each player that little in football is permanent.

"I emphasize that what might occur in the immediate future is not necessarily what's going to happen down the road," he said. "The other guy, who's third [in the depth chart], might have the bigger top end in the long run."

GLENNONHOLT