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 FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - The demotion hit Sean Glennon like a raging linebacker, and the explanation that it wasn't his fault hardly seemed to lessen the anguish.
After 15 games as the starting quarterback at Virginia Tech, he was being benched, replaced by a raw but gifted freshman whose mobility made him better suited to help the Hokies mask offensive line deficiencies caused by injuries and inexperience.
``You'd think that he had lost his best friend,'' wide receiver Eddie Royal, a teammate since high school, said of Glennon's reaction. ``He was that down. It was hard to talk to him. His whole world had just changed around, and he wasn't ready for it.''
The news came on a Monday, two days after Virginia Tech's embarrassing 48-7 loss at LSU, and it took Glennon a few days to finally hear what people were telling him. Stay ready. We need you. You will get another chance. Be prepared when it comes.
And when it came, on Oct. 13 against Duke, he was more than ready, beginning a turnaround that culminated last month with an MVP Award-winning performance in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship that only enhanced Glennon's role as a leader.
``It was surreal, really,'' Glennon said of winning the award, earned when he threw for 174 yards and three touchdowns as the Hokies beat Boston College 30-16.
``If you would have told me 2 1/2 months ago that I would be standing up on that podium getting an MVP trophy, I probably wouldn't have believed you. To bounce back from a rough patch in my career and finish it strong, it meant a lot to me,'' he said.
It also seemed strangely appropriate that Glennon got the feel-good ending.
As a well-spoken quarterback and a high school classmate of two of the victims of the shootings that left 32 dead and dozens more wounded on campus on April 16, Glennon became a spokesman of sorts for the Hokies and their role in the healing.
He was also, coach Frank Beamer has said, a guy who craved the opportunity to be a major college quarterback, who worked tirelessly to correct his deficiencies and who relished the thought of helping lead the community back from its darkest days.
He did, too, just not the way he'd drawn it up in his mind.
When Tyrod Taylor injured his ankle in the first half against Duke, it was Glennon's time, and he led three consecutive touchdown drives to build a 34-7 halftime lead. He kept the job while Taylor healed, and was playing so well that when Taylor was ready to return, Glennon became the dominant side of a two-quarterback system.
``I think Sean Glennon taught us,'' offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring said. ``He went back out there and had the opportunity to play, to start, to get back on the field. I think he had fun. He enjoyed the moment, enjoyed the opportunity.
``We have a tendency to forget that this is a game. It's meant to have fun.''
By example, Beamer said, Glennon also taught the team about perseverence.
``Your actions, for most people, speak a lot louder than words and I think his actions - how he performed when he got another opportunity and the team needed him - speaks volumes,'' Beamer said Wednesday before the team's final walkthrough. ``Within the football team, I think the whole team got a new sense of respect for him, too.''
It's a comeback story the team has enjoyed watching unfold.
``To see him grow, and to see how many people were on his back, and to see him continue to work and see him continue to fight, that's a really good thing. That's a blessing,'' wide receiver Justin Harper said. ``He really has God on his side.''
The offensive line, once held up as the reason for the demotion, is now operating at full strength, and glad to see Glennon taking advantage of his second chance.
``He'd been through a whole lot this season, taking a lot of criticism, having to give the reins up to a true freshman,'' left tackle Duane Brown said.
``He was upset about it for a couple of days, got over it, told himself next time he gets an opportunity he was going to make the most of it and that's what he did.''
Glennon appreciates the good wishes, and is again relishing his role.
``If you asked me would I want to go back and do the season over again, the answer is `no.' I wouldn't change it for anything,'' he said this week. ``It was a learning experience, a bump in the road, but I've come back strong because of it.''

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