Four years ago, we ranked the top twenty-five Virginia Tech athletes playing professional. The list featured then Denver Broncos receiver Eddie Royal at the top of the list and included anyone from Brandon Flowers to Joe Saunders to Ace Custis. Today, we update the list with plenty of changes. [details]
Notes: Highly recruited Parade All-American out of Hampton, Virginia who was named the state's Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior. Opened his true freshman season in 2007 as the backup to Sean Glennon. Did not appear in the season opener, but started 5-of-11 games played and completed 72-of-134 pass attempts (53.7 percent) for 927 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions. Also rushed 102 times for 429 yards (4.2-yard average) with six touchdowns. Sustained a high right ankle sprain against Duke that sidelined him against Boston College and Georgia Tech and did not start against Florida State. Was originally slated to redshirt in '08 (did not appear in the season opener and did not start in Week Two), but started 10-of-12 games played and tossed 99-173-1,036-2-7 (57.2) with 147-738-7 (5.0) on the ground. Sustained a high left ankle sprain on the first play against Florida State that sidelined him against Maryland and prevented him from starting against Miami (Fla.). Started all 27 games his final two seasons - threw 136-243-2,311-13-5 (56.0) with 106-370-5 (3.5) rushing in '09; and tossed 188-315-2,743-24-5 (59.7) with 146-659-5 (4.5) rushing in '10. Was a 21-year-old senior. Had a 34-8 career starting record.
Positives: Well-built. Very athletic and creative with the ball in his hands - can elude tacklers and make plays outside the pocket. Can escape the rush, keeping his eyes downfield and fit the ball into windows. Strong-armed and can zing it. Good improvisational skills. Good intangibles. Very confident, competitive, likable, respected team leader who can rally a huddle. Solid work habits.
Negatives: Lacks ideal height and has a low release point that results in batted balls. Average field vision, anticipation and accuracy - ducks out of the pocket prematurely, and footwork is inconsistent. Forces the ball too much - timing and touch are consistently off. Does not know how to gauge his arm strength and throws too many hard balls from close range. Faltered against heavy pressure in bowl game against Stanford. Could struggle to handle a complex playbook. Had a 57.2 career completion percentage.
Summary: Could fill a role as a specialty quarterback in the red zone for a team such as the Steelers or Cardinals, but greatest potential in the pros might come as a slot receiver and return man, where he will be a developmental project, if he is willing to embrace the change.