Michael Vick, the Virginia Tech star possessing a quarterback's arm and a running back's legs, announced today he is foregoing his final two years of eligibility and entering the NFL draft, where many believe he will be the No. 1 pick overall.
Speaking at the Boys & Girls Club in Newport News, Va., the redshirt sophomore quarterback at last announced his plans after several days of secrecy and weeks-long national interest.
"This has been one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make in my life," Vick said. He said his family, who was in attendance at the announcement, was important to him and he wanted to take care of them.
"I've decided to leave Virginia Tech … ," Vick said before his words were drowned out by cheers and applause.
Hedged on Pledge to Remain a Hokie
Vick on Dec. 15 had vowed to return to Virginia Tech next season, saying he needed more seasoning before making the leap to the NFL. However, he recanted two weeks later and said he just might enter the NFL draft after all when faced with the possibility of being picked No. 1.
"That's been my dream ever since I've been a young boy, ever since I've been watching football," Vick said in late December of the prospect.
Tech coach Frank Beamer and several members of his staff had flown to Newport News from Atlanta last Thursday to spend several hours with him. They arranged for Vick to speak with several NFL quarterbacks who stayed in school four years, as well as with NFL general managers Bill Polian of the Indianapolis Colts and Charley Casserly of the expansion Houston Texans, who will begin play in 2002. Vick and his family also met with high profile agent Leigh Steinberg.
Coronated a Star at Sugar Bowl
Vick threw for 1,840 yards and rushed for 585 more in his first season for Tech. But while people in Blacksburg, Va., knew they had something special in Vick, it wasn't until last year's national championship that the rest of the country caught on.
Cool and calm as a redshirt freshman playing in the championship, Vick dazzled a national audience in last year's Sugar Bowl against Florida State with his ability to dodge defenders and rifle passes downfield on the run. The media thereby crowned him the future prince of the NFL, saying his multidimensional play would revolutionize the way the quarterback position is played in the future.
After a tidal wave of magazine covers and praise, Vick was considered a lock for the Heisman Trophy in the preseason. But a sprained ankle and a 41-21 rout by Miami wiped out both Vick's hopes for the Heisman and the 11-1 Hokies' goal of an undefeated season and return to the national championship.
The injury made Vick less invincible this season as he threw for 1,234 yards and eight touchdowns while completing just 54 percent of his passes. A speedy, smart runner, Vicks also rushed for 8 touchdowns and averaged 61.7 yards per game on the ground in the regular season.
In what turned out to be his swan song as a Hokie, Vick threw for one touchdown and ran for another as Virginia Tech beat Clemson 41-20 in this year's Gator Bowl. Vick was 10-for-18 for 205 yards passing and rushed for 19.
The 1-15 San Diego Chargers have the first pick in April's NFL draft.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.