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February 6, 2014

Ford, Durkin Ready To Compete

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Sure, a player can line up at different positions, but only one player can be quarterback on the field at any one time. And with a three-year starter, Logan Thomas, now gone due to graduation, Virginia Tech is opening up the competition to replace him.

The Hokies took not just one, but two quarterbacks signees in the class of 2014, three-stars Andrew Ford and Chris Durkin. They'll vie for the starting job along with current quarterbacks Mark Leal and Brenden Motley, as well as fellow class-member Travon McMillian, an athlete who will get a shot at quarterback.

With Ford and Durkin, there are a number of differences between the two. One similarity though, is that both say they're willing to do whatever it takes to beat out their competition to be Virginia Tech's starter this fall.

For one, they both have different throwing arms and styles. Ford is a lefty, pro-style quarterback, who can scramble but looks more comfortable in the pocket. Durkin is built in the mold of Thomas and like him, Durkin has a big arm but will run straight ahead and lower his shoulder to take on an incoming tackler.

The Hokies have had a certain left-handed quarterback before, Michael Vick, who led them to the national championship game in 1999. And as Ford says, the difference in whether Virginia Tech has a right or left-handed signal-caller shouldn't make a big difference.

"People say it effects the offense, you have to change the blind-side tackle, roll out to the right or to the left, but it really hasn't impacted me," he said. "I think I'm good rolling out to the right, just as efficiently as I am to the left. My sophomore year of high school, I split time. I had a senior ahead of me who was right-handed and then me and the game plan didn't change for when we were rotating. You can look at it and say the ball spins differently, but I tell everyone, if the ball is where it's supposed to be, when it's supposed to be there, it shouldn't matter which hand it's coming off of."

The immediate advantage in the race for the starting spot might go to Ford. Leal, a senior, will likely go into spring practice as the starter. But Ford has already enrolled in school and will be competing as well. Durkin won't join the Hokies until later this summer, but he's still hard at work, including this week, as he plays with the Team USA U-19 team in Texas.

"It's gonna be an open competition at the quarterback spot," he said. "I plan on busting my tail to do everything I can to be the starter next year."

But Ford also hopes to make the most of his early advantage, which will include learning the playbook quicker and executing the plays, as well as having the tutelage of offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler.

"Every day, I'm just gonna try to get better in every aspect of the game at quarterback," Ford said. "I can't control who's been here, who's coming. I can really only control how hard I work every single day. I think, if I do that, everything else will take care of itself. There's a lot of great quarterbacks here. Chris Durkin will be joining us in the summer. But that's what you want at this position. You want a competition. You want everyone pushing each other every single day to get the best out of everyone and you'll definitely get that with these next couple of months."

By the time Durkin arrives in Blacksburg, the race for the starting spot will already be well underway. But he also hopes he can catch up to his teammates very quickly.

"I think I'll compete very well," Durkin said. "I'm looking forward to that competition and like I said, it's gonna be an open competition. It all comes down to who wants it the most, who's the best guy there and who can lead that team to some wins."

May the best man, win.



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