- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 28, 2004

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Never let it be said Bryan Randall does not have a sense of levity.

Virginia Tech’s starting quarterback the past two seasons was set to battle Marcus Vick for the job this fall with the brother of Hokies icon Michael Vick expected to display enough razzle-dazzle to leave Randall on the sideline.

But with Marcus Vick suspended by the school for this season, the incumbent quarterback suddenly became the most important element in the inexperienced Hokies having a successful season.

Randall is better known for making plays than delivering jokes, but one day after a spring practice, he became a stand-up comic when he spotted quarterbacks coach Kevin Rogers.

“On the way back from the field house, I pulled up beside him and said, ‘Coach, I think I am going to take my redshirt year this season,’” said Randall, a senior backed up by two true freshmen.

Rogers didn’t fall for the gag. Recalled Randall: “He looked at me and said, ‘OK, whatever,’”

Now that’s staying cool under pressure.

After two years of outsiders predicting Vick would take his job, Randall is the Hokies’ lone quarterback hope as they await tonight’s game against top-ranked Southern California in the BCA Classic at FedEx Field.

Understandably, Randall said it’s refreshing to talk about playing rather than about a quarterback controversy.

“Anytime you can play through your mistakes it’s for the best rather than getting taken out after a mistake,” said Randall, who has started 25 straight games. “Mistakes are going to happen. Good quarterbacks play through them. Hopefully, I will be in a position this year where I can play through my mistakes.”

In fact, Randall will be allowed to play through a comedy of errors if needed. The versatile quarterback, who threw for 1,996 yards and ran for 404 last season, won’t have to look over his shoulder for the first time. In fact, the Hokies will limit potentially risky option calls to help keep their most valuable commodity on the field.

“Brian has to be smart,” Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. “If you run to the sideline, like we told Michael [Vick], ‘If you’re over there and [the play is] over, it’s over — get down. If you are in the middle of the field and it’s over, get down.’ No use taking any unnecessary chances.”

Randall, also a walk-on Virginia Tech’s basketball team, makes up for not having a big arm by his short-range accuracy and ability to improvise. The quarterback from Williamsburg doesn’t relish being the only quarterback who has taken a snap on the roster, but he takes it in stride — just like all the past speculation that he would lose his job.

“My mentality doesn’t change at all,” said Randall, who had 15 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions last season. “If Marcus were here, I would prepare and play as hard as I can every day. Now that he is not here, I am still doing the same thing.”

Randall, a sociology major, plans to be smarter and more consistent this season. The noted scrambler doesn’t plan to alter his style because his backup is now freshman Sean Glennon rather than Vick, who was suspended after being convicted of three misdemeanors for contributing to the delinquency of a minor and later was arrested on marijuana charges.

Coach Frank Beamer chuckled when he heard about Randall’s light-hearted remark about sitting out this season, but he knows the quarterback situation is no laughing matter.

“If he would have done that to me, I would have thrown him out [of my office],” Beamer said. “He would have gone out faster than he came in. Nah, I don’t think many of us are in a joking mood around here. This is serious business right now.”

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