Little to show from Lee's hyped '04 class

By BRIAN LANDMAN, Times Staff Writer
Published January 17, 2008

In February 2004, Rivals.com hailed the Florida State Seminoles' recruiting class as the nation's third best.

Coming off a 10-win season, an ACC championship and a Bowl Championship Series berth in the Orange Bowl, the Seminoles looked to be stocked for the kind of success they had enjoyed throughout the 1990s.

Not so much, which underscores the pitfalls of rushing to judgment on signing day.

Seven of the 26 signees that year turned out to be solid starters: receiver Greg Carr, cornerback Tony Carter, kicker Gary Cismesia, offensive lineman Jacky Claude, receiver De'Cody Fagg, linebacker Lawrence Timmons and quarterback Drew Weatherford.

Seven left the program early, and the lone five-star prospect of the group, quarterback Xavier Lee, just declared early for the NFL draft after a largely disappointing career.

"He couldn't establish himself at FSU, which needed a quarterback, so how is he going to be a quarterback in the NFL?" ESPN analyst Mel Kiper said in response to an online question. "Lee is not going to be a draftable player no matter what he does in workouts. He hasn't shown anything. He should have stayed in school because he's not going to be a quarterback in the NFL."

Not what you would have expected in February 2004.

HELLO NIGEL: Linebacker Nigel Bradham, a Rivals.com five-star prospect out of Crawfordville Wakulla High, is one of three recruits who have already signed and enrolled in classes. The others are linebacker Vincent Williams and defensive back Terrance Parks.

"It's a big advantage," Bradham said of his early entry, which affords him the opportunity to participate in offseason conditioning and spring practice. "I really am looking forward to it."

Bradham might be needed to play, if not start immediately, given the loss of Geno Hayes NFL and probable suspensions of players for the opening three games as a result of the academic misconduct scandal.

HELP ON THE WAY: Women's basketball coach Sue Semrau hasn't had the lineup she expected with multiple academic-related suspensions, but after tonight's game against Wake Forest, she'll get some badly needed help.

Sharpshooting guard Tanae Davis-Cain and guard Angel Gray will be out for their ninth games today for an undisclosed violation of team rules but are expected back for Sunday's game at Clemson. Student confidentially won't allow the school to say more, but the nine-game penalty is 30 percent of the season, which is the amount associated with anyone involved in the academic scandal.

"It's huge," Semrau said of the prospect of those players' return. "What's happened is you've seen a lot of the scoring load has had to be borne by Mara (Freshour) and Shante (Williams) and they both need to be freed up so defenses can't concentrate on them. With Tanae being able to spread some things out, it's going to make everybody so much better."

Davis-Cain started the first nine games and leads the team in scoring (13.7 ppg) and still is second in 3-pointers (18-of-49). That punch is especially vital with standout center Britany Miller out; she was ruled academically ineligible for the semester.

FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH: After back-to-back 7-6 seasons, conventional wisdom suggests that FSU's return to national championship form won't occur overnight. Apparently, the oddsmakers share that take.

The Seminoles are 50-1 to win next season's Bowl Championship Series finale in Miami, according to Bodoglife.com, an online gambling site. Southern California is the site's early-line favorite at 3-1, followed by Florida, Georgia and Ohio State at 6-1. USF is 50-1 and Miami is 60-1.

ALUMNI NEWS: Former star defensive back and graduate assistant James Colzie is the new defensive coordinator at West Georgia, which just hired a new head coach, former FSU quarterbacks coach Daryl Dickey.

Brian Landman can be reached at landman@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3347.