BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -To prepare for his first season carrying Virginia Tech's national title hopes, Tyrod Taylor sought the counsel of another dual-threat quarterback who performed the role for the Hokies better than anyone: Michael Vick.
The two quarterbacks spoke by phone after Vick was released from federal prison earlier this summer. Vick's dazzling play carried the Hokies to the Sugar Bowl following the 1999 season, where they lost the national championship game 46-29 to Florida State.
Now, it's Taylor's turn to try and do the same thing.
``He just told me that this was a big season and just to go out there and have fun,'' Taylor said of Vick, ``don't put too much pressure on myself.''
Besides soliciting some advice from the new Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, Taylor also did some work at home this summer with his teammates, and attended the Manning Passing Academy in Louisiana, working with Peyton and Eli Manning and other top quarterbacks.
s and working on his pocket presence. He also knows he will need to rely on the Hokies' other playmakers once the season begins.
``I have a lot of guys out there, receivers that can make plays,'' Taylor said. ``It's my job to get the ball to them. ... It's just about me trusting the guys and getting the ball out.''
The ability of Taylor to stay healthy also will be critical for the seventh-ranked Hokies.
The past two years, he shared playing time with Sean Glennon, a situation that allowed Taylor to make plays by himself almost without regard for his health.
Pocket collapsing? Taylor took off running, relying on his feet so often that he almost seemed reluctant to throw a pass. It was a style that led to numerous big plays for the Hokies, but also led to ankle injuries that forced Glennon in as a replacement.
With Glennon now trying to make it in the NFL, Taylor is the Hokies' only quarterback with college experience. And with games against No. 5 Alabama, No. 24 Nebraska and Miami in the first month, Taylor will need to be very good from the opener.
``Tyrod's really embraced the leadership role,'' said redshirt sophomore Danny Coale, who set a Hokies freshman record last season with 36 catches for 408 yards.
The Hokies had six passing touchdowns last year; Taylor had just two in 173 tries, and threw seven interceptions while ranking second on the team with 738 yards rushing.
is season, the loss of tailback Darren Evans for the season to a knee injury has left the Hokies with questions in their running game, although Ryan Williams and David Wilson are two of the most heralded recruits in school history.
Still, Taylor's passing numbers will have to be better for the Hokies to stand any chance at a title. Quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain said the key boils down to ``just confidence.''
``It always helps you as a quarterback to be the guy,'' O'Cain said. ``From Day 1, you're the guy. When you are able to go through spring practice as the quarterback, go through the summer as the quarterback, come in in August as the quarterback, it's a tremendous advantage. You just carry yourself in a different way.
``He's different in our meetings. He's different on the practice field.''
Coach Frank Beamer said that getting redshirt freshman Ju-Ju Clayton and freshman Logan Thomas ready to be the backup would be one of his priorities this preseason.
Beamer is hoping they'll be able to watch and learn from Taylor, yet another dual-threat quarterback trying to carry his team to the national title game.
``He's exactly the type of player you want leading a football team,'' Beamer said.
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