| ||Sunday, September 3|
Vick makes Hokies title contenders
|By Bill Doherty|
Special to ESPN.com
Virginia Tech Hokies
1999 record: 11-1 (7-0 Big East) Coach: Frank Beamer Returning starters: 11 (8 Offense, 3 Defense) Outlook
Very bright, as long as Michael Vick, college football's Houdini in a helmet, is on campus. Vick exploded on to the scene as a redshirt freshman, killing opponents with both his howitzer of a left arm and his game-breaking speed (sub-4.3 in the 40). He finished third in the Heisman voting in 1999 and nearly brought a national title to Blacksburg. With Vick at the controls and seven other starters back from the nation's highest scoring offense, putting points on the board won't be a problem. A rebuilt defense, which lost eight starters, will ultimately decide Tech's fate. And the new faces on defense must be ready to perform from Day One as last year's national runners-up face a pair of 1999 bowl teams within their first three contests --Georgia Tech (Aug. 27 in the BCA Bowl) and at East Carolina (Sept. 7). Keep an eye on ...
Redshirt freshman defensive end Nathaniel Adibi. For a second straight year, the Hokies have a redshirt freshman gem that they're ready to unleash from the fertile region of Southeastern Virginia known as "The Peninsula." Last year, it was the magical Vick. This year, the 6-3, 242-pound Adibi from Hampton, Virginia (who was rated the nation's top defensive line prospect in the Class of 1999 by several recruiting publications) will burst on the scene. Don't believe us? Consider that in addition to Vick, the Peninsula has produced NFL Hall of Famers Lawrence Taylor and Dwight Stephenson as well as current NBA All-Star guard Allen Iverson over the years. It's a good season if ...
Tech's stellar defensive coordinator Bud Foster can quickly rebuild the front seven, particularly a thin front four which lost both Lombardi Award winner Corey Moore and fellow star John Engelberger. The tackle spots should be fine with juniors Chad Beasley (39 tackles, two sacks in 1999) and David Pugh (seven tackles for loss) back in the fold, however both starting ends (including the aforementioned Adibi) aren't battle-tested. Vick, for one, isn't worried. "Bud Foster will have our guys ready," promises Vick. "He has a plan, so I know that our defense is not just going to be stomped all over. That's why I'm not even worried." Bill Doherty covers Big East football for ESPN.com
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