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Punting the QB

Even before his latest arrest, Virginia Tech had decided to boot Marcus Vick

THE MOMENT most associated with Marcus Vick's brief, troubled career as Virginia Tech's quarterback may be his infamous stomping of Louisville defensive end Elvis Dumervil's leg in the Gator Bowl. But the speeding and reckless-driving infractions that helped end his tenure as a Hokie are better metaphors for the way he finished his college days--barreling forward, too fast for his own good.

Vick's chances of becoming an NFL star like his brother, Michael, the Atlanta Falcons' Pro Bowl quarterback, took a major blow last week when Virginia Tech kicked him off the team in the wake of the Gator Bowl incident and the belated revelation that he was stopped in December for speeding while driving with a suspended license. Although Vick, a junior, didn't exactly seem devastated ("I'll just move on to the next level, baby," he told The Virginian-Pilot), he might find that the NFL isn't quite as welcoming as he expects--especially following his arrest on Monday on charges of brandishing a gun in a parking lot. (Vick, who was not asked to enter a plea, was released on a $10,000 bond.)

Vick, 21, will have to wait considerably longer to hear his name called on draft day than his brother did in 2001, when he was the No. 1 pick. While he is viewed as a talented player (he was the runner-up in ACC offensive player of the year voting), Vick is also inexperienced (he started in only 13 college games) and his character has long been a question. (He was suspended for the entire 2004 season after two arrests.) Last Saturday one NFL G.M. said that he was likely a mid-round pick: "He might have first-round talent, but he's so lacking in experience. He's the kind of player whose stock could really go up with one more good, solid year [in college]." On Monday the G.M. said, "I think someone will take a run at him, but it wouldn't be a shock if he slipped out of the draft altogether."

The Tech administration showed admirable backbone in dismissing Vick despite the possibility of losing the goodwill of--and potential donations from--his big brother. Now the best that Vick the younger can realistically hope for is a spot at the bottom of some NFL team's depth chart. Maybe he'll mature a bit while he sits on the sideline. Otherwise a pro career that's about to begin prematurely will end that way too.





BAD STEP Vick claimed his stomp on Louisville's Dumervil was an accident.