BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Marcus Vick decided to turn pro Saturday, one day after he was kicked off the team at Virginia Tech for transgressions on and off the field.
"I have decided to enter the NFL draft," the junior quarterback said in a three-paragraph statement released through his lawyers. "I am very excited about this opportunity and look forward to proving my athletic ability at the professional level. I believe I am ready for this challenge and the next chapter of my life."
Vick said he appreciated all the consideration and trust that Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer had placed in him during his stay at Virginia Tech, and said "I deeply regret that I allowed my competitive emotions to take control" in the Gator Bowl.
"To all of the Virginia Tech community, I sincerely apologize."
Virginia Tech cited the cumulative effects of Vick's legal problems and his unsportsmanlike conduct in the Jan. 2 bowl in dismissing him from the team Friday.
During the game, he was caught on tape stomping on the left calf of Louisville All-American defensive end Elvis Dumervil after a tackle. Vick claimed it was an accident, but school officials said Saturday they thought it looked intentional.
"We have received hundreds of letter from fans and alumni who are disturbed by what they saw," university president Charles Steger said at a Saturday news conference.
Beamer, who delivered the news of the dismissal to Vick and his mother in person, said he did not advise Vick on whether or not to turn pro, but told him during their meeting Friday that he would help him in any way he could when Vick made his decision.
The dismissal hit Vick's mother, Brenda Boddie, hard.
"I cried a lot yesterday," she said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "But we're just going to move on and make something positive out of this and Marcus is going to show everybody that he's not the person a lot of people claim he is."
She agreed that her son "did the wrong thing" and said she understood why Tech dismissed him, but said she resents seeing her son portrayed as a "monster."
Looking ashen, Beamer said he, Steger and Weaver agreed that outcome had to be dismissal from the football team, but that made it no less disappointing.
"When I go into a home and talk about how I'm going to do my best to make everything at Virginia Tech successful and be good and then it doesn't reach that -- it's disappointing to me as a coach," he said.
"I can tell you he's deeply hurt, he's deeply saddened. I can assure you this kid is very, very hurt, his mom is very, very hurt and I'm hurting with them."
Vick was suspended from school in 2004 because of several legal problems, and came under intense scrutiny this week after replays of his actions against Dumervil. Vick claimed it was accidental, but hurt his cause by claiming to have apologized to Dumervil, the NCAA sacks leader. Dumervil said he received no such apology.
The last straw came Friday, even as Beamer was preparing to offer Vick the option of accepting a two-game suspension or deciding to leave Virginia Tech.
A fax sent to Steger's office disclosed that Vick had been stopped for driving 38 mph in a 25 mph zone and driving with a revoked or suspended license on Dec. 17. Vick had told Beamer about the ticket for driving on a suspended license on Dec. 19, Beamer said, but had never mentioned to anyone that he'd also been caught speeding.
Vick's license had been taken away in August 2004 when he was cited for reckless driving and marijuana possession, but had been reinstated until a friend driving a car owned by Vick was pulled over and found to not have insurance, Beamer said.
Vick received a citation for that, but an investigation by the school revealed that getting his license reinstated was merely a formality, Beamer said he was told.
Vick entered this season trying to win his team's trust and knowing he would face hostility from opposing fans, mostly stemming from his drug arrest and another conviction for serving alcohol to underage girls during the 2003 school year.
He said he was ready for anything, but reacted to chants of "rapist!" and "child molester!" at West Virginia on Oct. 1 by gesturing obscenely toward the crowd. He met with Beamer afterward and apologized to the team and to Mountaineers fans.
Vick was the runner-up to Wake Forest's Chris Barclay, by one vote, as the conference's offensive player of the year, and was the league's first-team quarterback.
In 24 career games, Vick threw for 2,868 yards, 19 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He also ran 184 times for 492 yards and six TDs.