Former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer will tell you that no one did more to put the Hokies on the college football map than quarterback Michael Vick. On Friday night, Beamer will be there to see Vick get inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame. Vick and his fellow inductees will then be introduced at halftime Saturday against Old Dominion.
We talked to 11 former coaches, teammates, opponents and future Virginia Tech quarterbacks to ask for their first memories watching Vick play, and what made him so special.
Tommy Reamon, Vick's high school coach: "He was in the ninth grade, and he came out for football, and we had a little chat. He said, 'I'd like you to send me to college like you sent my cousin, Aaron Brooks.' And I said, 'OK.' And we went on, and within weeks, I saw him throw a pass -- it's the same flick of the wrist that everybody got to know and watch -- and when I saw that, I said, 'Wow, that's special.' Then midseason came of his ninth-grade year, and he played JV, but I had a quarterback who I sent on to East Carolina named Marcellus Harris, but his best position was receiver. I said, 'OK, it's time to make that change.' I brought Michael up that week. It was a big week of excitement to say, 'OK, what's this freshman going to do?' The boy threw four touchdown passes, three of them to Marcellus Harris, and the rest was history."
Ronald Curry, Vick's high school rival QB: "My first memory was in rec league. I came to see him play. I think he was playing for the Boys and Girls Club. I played for the Hampton Tornadoes. He was on one of the teams that was younger. We heard about him back then, when I think he was 11 or 12 years old, and he was a great talent.
"He was just as good as me, right below me or maybe a little better. He was more of a football player than I was, as I played football and basketball."
Reamon: "I always told Michael that Curry was a great athlete. He was not Michael Vick. We had some exciting games those two kids played against each other, extraordinary games in front of 10,000 people that has never been done since."
Curry: "Honestly, the games were good. I played on a loaded team that had a lot of good players. His team was kind of middle of the pack, and he made that team better just by his play. My memories of him in high school was waking up the next day, not playing against him and wanting to see what he did because that was my competition as a quarterback, to see how many yards he passed for if it was more than me. The next game, I would have to step it up [if he got more]. The competition was not always on game day, but from a distance."
Corey Moore, former Virginia Tech All-America DE: "I got to see him play a couple times in high school and was blown away. His cousin, Dwight, was on the team with us. All he kept talking about was his little cousin and how he was doing damage, making highlight-reel plays in high school. He was comparing him to Allen Iverson. I was a big Allen Iverson fan, and he was telling us he was something special, running the ball, throwing the ball -- just a great athlete. Back then you didn't have YouTube. I wanted to see for myself. And seeing him play in person was unbelievable."
"Going against him on the scout team, I remembered the Syracuse week and him being Donovan McNabb. It was like, 'Oh my God.' McNabb was good, but he wasn't that good."Former Va. Tech DE Corey Moore
Beamer: "You knew he was special, but he's running away from other high school kids. The level of play is not what it is at the college level. But then he got to college, and I saw him do the very same thing. He just had a gift, an ability that he could run a little bit faster, jump a little bit quicker, had a great feel for the game, how he threw the ball and how quickly it came out and how accurate he was. He could throw the touch pass over the middle, he could throw the deep ball. He was just everything I saw in high school."
Beamer promised Reamon he would redshirt Vick his freshman year. His talents became obvious as he ran the scout team.
Moore: "Going against him on the scout team, I remembered the Syracuse week and him being Donovan McNabb. It was like, 'Oh my God, McNabb was good, but he wasn't that good. Michael was making some of us look pretty stupid missing tackles."
Andre Davis, Vick's Virginia Tech WR: "As great as Corey Moore was and is, to see Mike run around the corner, it makes you laugh now even thinking about it. Corey had one of the greatest get-offs off the ball that I've ever seen. To see Mike run circles around him and get around him with ease and then be able do that little snap of his wrist to get the ball on target -- you see that happening from a true freshman, it's definitely special and lets you know: All right everyone, get ready."
Beamer: "We were getting ready to play Boston College, and we lost our first quarterback, and our second quarterback, and now we're going to bring over a free safety, Nicky Sorensen, who played quarterback in high school. I had been watching Michael on our scout team. We had a lot of quick, good athletic defensive guys running around. They couldn't catch him on the practice field, either. I said, 'We need to take that redshirt year off of Michael and play him.' Jim Cavanaugh reminded me in the meeting, 'No, you promised Coach Reamon you would redshirt him.' I said, 'Yeah, you're right, I've got to keep my word.'"
"Sometimes, we just hoped our receivers were covered so that Michael would have to scramble around and run."Frank Beamer
Bud Foster, Virginia Tech defensive coordinator: "Steve Spurrier offered me a job at Florida, but I knew we had something really, really special, and we had our whole defense coming back -- Corey Moore and some guys at the time that were really dynamic. But the guy to me who was the most dynamic was who our next quarterback was going to be. Seeing that firsthand every day ... Mike was a guy that really individually athletically challenged our guys. You knew firsthand that this guy had so many qualities that you'd never seen before in an athlete and particularly at that position, combined with what he had speedwise, but probably had the best arm in college football at the time, just an explosive dynamic athlete."
Davis: "From the very first game we played, which was against James Madison, he was a highlight show getting ready to go into action. Our first touchdown pass that we had together, it was in Charlottesville playing against UVa. It was our first away game in the '99 season. He took his five-step drop and launched the ball -- and even looking back on it now, I still don't know how I was able to catch up to it. But it was one of those fingertip catches that you have to make the decision: Am I going to dive or am I going to try to run through the ball, catch it and keep going? One of our newspapers caught it where I'm literally catching the back end of the ball. It's those sorts of plays where when a quarterback can hit you on the go, and you don't have to slow down; that's what makes explosive plays happen. That was just a sign of things to come for us that year."
Beamer: "Sometimes, we just hoped our receivers were covered so that Michael would have to scramble around and run. If the receivers were covered, that means they probably had quite a few people in coverage, so there's only so many people rushing the passer. If it's four or less, the odds are pretty good that Michael could pick up 10 yards if he broke out of there."
Mike Rumph, former Miami CB: "First time I played against him, in 1999 up there, they ended up beating us in the end. We played a really physical game; we were pounding him, and I remember, we were hitting him and he was going to the sideline kind of limping, and back then he went to the sideline to get the call from the coach. We were like, 'Yes! We got him, he's going to the sideline.' And we looked, and he's coming back on the field. We were like, 'Wow.' Just his toughness stood out to us."
With Vick at the helm, the Hokies advanced all the way to the national title game against Florida State.
Mark Richt, Florida State OC: "First time I saw him was pregame warm-ups. And I was like, 'Oh my gosh, look at this guy.' Not many quarterbacks looked like that back in the day. I was like, 'Whoa, this guy is a beast of a guy physically, and then literally I think a couple of our defenders tore their ACL trying to break down and tackle the guy early in the game. He was that elusive, that dangerous."
Mario Edwards, 1999 FSU CB: "True story. Our starting linebacker and our starting defensive end both tore ACLs chasing Michael Vick. It's nearly impossible to tackle him one-on-one, he's fast, he's strong, he's explosive and he loves the game of football."
Richt: "They had a drive where they drove the field, I think it was on the opening drive, and I think they had a mishandling of the ball right on the goal line. They fumbled and we got it, and that helped us. But we were losing going into the fourth quarter before we took the lead and kept it. He was an amazing guy."
"Our starting linebacker and our starting defensive end both tore ACLs chasing Michael Vick."Former FSU CB Mario Edwards
Edwards: "Our game plan was stop the pass, make him run, and we felt that our speed could catch up with him later on in the game. It took us to the fourth quarter to catch up with him, but we did it."
Beamer: "What that did for your recruiting, kids started saying, 'This place is good enough for Michael Vick, then I need to look into going to Virginia Tech.' He was just probably the best that's ever been as an athletic quarterback."
Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech QB, 2010-2013: "I went to the Boston College game (in 2000) with my grandpa. He was electric that game, just like many of his other games. He was a special player who transcends generations."
Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech QB, 2007-10: "As a kid growing up in that area, to see him, it's one thing. But as a kid in basically the same neighborhood, you see that guy -- first overall pick -- and it's like, 'Man, I want to be like Mike.' ... At high school, I saw every time he played against Hampton High. Just because I went to Hampton, so I remember those guys very vividly. What he brought to the position at that time was definitely something that people hadn't really seen. They had seen mobile quarterbacks but not really as fast and as strong as he was. So he was definitely a game-changer when it comes to mobile quarterbacks. There's other guys out there, Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon, Steve McNair, Tommie Frazier ... but none of those guys were as fast as Mike. So he kind of changed the game."
ESPN NFL reporter Mike Rodak contributed to this report.