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'Canes football recruit looks to rise above legal issues

By Associated Press
Published June 8, 2004

GAINESVILLE - A July 26 trial date has been set for Miami football recruit Willie Williams on a felony charge for setting off fire extinguishers at a hotel during a recruiting trip.

Meanwhile, Williams' attorney is still seeking a plea bargain that would lower the charges against the touted prospect to a misdemeanor.

Williams, a linebacker from Miami Carol City High, signed with the Hurricanes in February. Attorney Paul Lazarus said Monday he is hopeful Williams will be playing for Miami this fall.

The school stopped processing Williams' admissions application when his legal history became public. He had been arrested 11 times since 1999 and was sentenced to 18 months probation in 2002 after pleading no contest to burglary charges.

After his recruiting visit to Florida at the end of January, Williams was charged with setting off three fire extinguishers at the University of Florida Hilton.

He also was charged with a misdemeanor for hugging a woman against her will on the same visit and is due back in Gainesville on June 15 for a case management conference on that charge.

After the Gainesville charges, Williams was arrested in Broward County for violating his probation. Circuit Judge Michael Kaplan of Fort Lauderdale said he will not rule on the alleged probation violation until Williams' legal status is cleared in Gainesville.

USF: Quarterback Evan Kraky is transferring. Kraky, who signed in 2002 after a record-setting career at Lakeland High in Jermyn, Pa., had a chronic ankle problem and missed the 2003 season to have surgery. He returned to school in January and participated in spring drills. He was third on the depth chart behind Pat Julmiste and Ronnie Banks, and incoming freshman Louis Gachette will enter the fall as the No. 3 quarterback.

FSU: A home game was added against Troy State in 2006, filling one of two openings in FSU's nonconference schedule. The Seminoles still need to find a game, most likely on the road, to replace Miami, which counts as a league game beginning this fall.


FSU: Pitcher/outfielder Jessica van der Linden was named the winner of the Honda Award as the nation's top player. She previously won the USA Softball National Player of the Year award.

FLORIDA: Four men's golfers were named All-Americans by PING Golf Coaches Association of America. Senior Camilo Villegas and sophomore Matt Every were named to the first team, while sophomore Brett Stegmaier and freshman Jessie Mudd were named honorable mention.


USF: Two Bulls claimed the Conference USA scholar-athlete of the year award for 2003-04 - juniors Christa Benton (women's cross country) and Kristina West (women's track & field). The award is based on grade-point average, athletic achievement and service. Benton won her first three races last fall, has a 3.89 GPA in music education and is a volunteer kinderchurch teacher at Grace Bible Church in St. Petersburg. West won five of nine outdoor meets in the pole vault with a best of 12 feet, had a 3.75 GPA in biomedical science in 2003-04 and is a volunteer at the Shriners Hospital, with the Child Abuse Council and at the Terrace Community School.

ARKANSAS: Two Arkansas stars will skip some events at the 2004 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships this week after the school dropped an appeal on behalf of one and lost an appeal for the other. Senior Alistair Cragg's name was withdrawn from an appeal to the NCAA Championship Committee seeking to reinstate the six-time national champion into the 5,000-meter run. The committee later rejected an appeal on behalf of women' sprinter Veronica Campbell to be allowed to run in the 100 and 200 meter events.

- Times staff writers Brian Landman and Pete Young contributed to this report.

[Last modified June 8, 2004, 01:01:17]


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