New talent makes early appearance

Published January 12, 2006

Florida State heralded recruit Myron Rolle said he felt almost like "a fish out of water" on Monday.

"I had to get on a bus and get to class," said Rolle, a safety, who graduated from high school early and started classes this week at FSU. "I had to ask people where Fisher Hall was. I didn't know where anything was."

But Rolle, who plans to go to medical school one day, is nothing if not a quick study.

And that bodes well for the Seminoles. He's one of five players who will be part of the 2006 signing class already in school, giving each a jump start on football. The others are junior college transfers, offensive lineman Shannon Boatman, defensive tackle Paul Griffin and defensive back Toddrick Verdell, and another early high school grad, quarterback Christian Ponder. Running back Matt Dunham, who signed in 2005, has enrolled, too.

All can participate in mat drills and spring practice.

"I think it will help me a whole lot," Rolle said. "I know Greg Carr came in early and had a fantastic season."

Carr had 30 catches for 618 yards and an ACC-high nine touchdowns.

FSU could use some impact newcomers like Carr next season, especially along the lines (hello, Mr. Boatman, hello Mr. Griffin) and at safety with graduation claiming starters Pat Watkins and Kyler Hall.

UP NEXT: Senior tailback Leon Washington has accepted an invitation to play in the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 21.

"Obviously, I'm upset I didn't get into the Senior Bowl," he said. "I think I'm a good enough player to play in that game. But I can understand it; I don't have any numbers. How can you tell a guy who has 1,000 yards he can't play? I'm fortunate to be in that game and I'll make the best of my situation, I promise you that."

Tight end Matt Henshaw is also set for that game.

Meanwhile, Henshaw, center David Castillo, fullback James Coleman and receiver/punt returner Willie Reid, MVP of the ACC championship game and the Orange Bowl, have been invited to All-American Classic in Las Vegas on Saturday.

WORK IN PROGRESS: The women's basketball team (10-5, 1-1 in the ACC) isn't exactly where coach Sue Semrau had hoped it would be at this point, but she likes the direction.

"We're definitely a work in progress, but I'm so pleased with the progress we've made since Christmas," she said.

The Seminoles are coming off perhaps their best effort of the season, beating Virginia (11-2) on Sunday, 60-46. The Cavaliers scored only 13 points in the opening half, hitting 5 of 29 shots, a tribute to FSU's improving defensive play.

Just as encouraging is the team's improving offensive play. Center Britany Miller, one of three freshmen averaging at least 18 minutes, gives FSU a true low post presence for the first time in years and that has forced everyone to alter her approach in attacking. For some veterans, roles changed.

"But I like our position right now," said Semrau, "considering the blending of the old and the new."

NATIONAL BUZZ: Women's soccer stars, junior forward India Trotter and freshman defender Sarah Wagenfuhr, continue to produce big-time results long after the NCAA semifinals.

Trotter earned a spot on the U.S. national team, a first for an FSU player, and heads to China for a prestigious tournament Jan. 18-22. Wagenfuhr won a spot on the U-20 national team as it tries to qualify for the U-20 World Cup. That team's first match is against Jamaica on Jan. 19 in Mexico.

Not only will the international experience help both players, but the program should get quite a boost.

"These young players coming out of their clubs and high schools want to know they have a chance to get to their national teams (by playing here)," coach Mark Krikorian said, crediting former coach Patrick Baker and his assistants for their role in recruiting both players and developing Trotter. "We felt we could say that with all certainty before, but now it makes the claim even stronger."

Signing date is Feb. 1.

Brian Landman covers Florida State athletics. Reach him at 813 226-3347 or by e-mail at landman@sptimes.com