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FSU boots likely starting QB

Jared Jones remains enrolled at the school but is off the team, leaving it with one experienced QB.

By BRIAN LANDMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 26, 2001


Florida State junior Jared Jones, the only experienced quarterback on the roster and the projected starter entering what figured to be a contentious spring practice, was kicked off the team Thursday for violating team rules.

"He will remain a student at Florida State University but is no longer a member of the football team," coach Bobby Bowden said in a brief statement.

According to Tallahassee police, Jones was not arrested, and because he is allowed to stay in school, his problem did not involve academics. It's also believed he was not insubordinate. Jones, 20, could not be reached for comment.

A highly touted, strong-armed prospect from Walla Walla, Wash., the program that produced Drew Bledsoe, the 6-foot-5, 235-pound Jones played sparingly in his first three seasons, completing 7 of 19 passes for 33 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions in five career games. He sat out this past season as a redshirt.

"It's almost like I'm dreaming; I'll finally get my time to come in and start playing," he said the morning after the Seminoles' Orange Bowl loss.

But Jones likely will look to pursue baseball. An outfielder, he signed with Seattle Mariners out of high school, and the club was paying his school expenses. He played four games in the team's minor-league system last summer and planned to play again for a month or so this summer.

His dismissal leaves FSU with one quarterback, freshman Chris Rix, who sat out this past season as a redshirt.

"It's a tough situation," said receivers coach Jeff Bowden, the likely candidate to replace Mark Richt as offensive coordinator assuming FSU can settle possible nepotism issues (Bowden is the coach's son).

"It puts a lot of responsibility on Chris. It makes us awfully cautious of limiting the chances of him getting hit. We'll probably put him in a different colored jersey with neon lights or something. The biggest question that comes to my mind is how can he take 80 straight reps in a spring practice. We don't even have a walk-on to take snaps."

He added that receiver Anquan Boldin, who came to FSU as one of the nation's top prep quarterbacks, could be moved back to his old position for the spring, but the coaches have not discussed that option. It would help to have Boldin, one of the team's best receivers, working with Rix as much as possible.

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Rix must show immediately why he was so highly acclaimed coming out of Santa Margarita (Calif.) High, as well as how much he learned watching Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke.

"It's been a very good experience," Rix said recently. "It was humbling and kind of frustrating when you come in and you're not playing, but I look back now and say, "Thank God Chris stayed.' I got to learn a lot from him in preparation for next season, learning the offense, going on the road and just the whole transition of going from high school to college I felt was very crucial in my development rather than jumping right in."

Before he left to become coach at Georgia, Richt said he was impressed with how hard Rix had studied to close the gap with Jones and fully expected a good competition between the two for the starting job during the spring.

"Chris is really a great runner who has a very strong arm," Richt said. "He has unbelievable ability."

The recruiting effort will have to be unbelievable, too. The backup job will fall to a freshman. FSU has received an oral commitment from Matt Henshaw (Brentwood, Tenn.) and is scheduled to host one of the nation's top quarterbacks, Joe Mauer (Cretin-Derham Hall, St. Paul, Minn.) this weekend. FSU also is wooing Bradenton Southeast star Adrian McPherson.

NEPOTISM QUESTIONED: Bobby Bowden wants to promote Jeff, his youngest son, but Sandy D'Alemberte, university president, says it could violate the school's nepotism rule. Jeff Bowden joined the staff in 1994 as receivers coach, but the nepotism concern was avoided because he reported to Richt.

Around the nation

UF SIGNING: Offensive lineman Maurice Mitchell, a Georgia native, committed. The 6-foot-8, 335-pound Mitchell signed with Alabama last season but was academically ineligible and spent the season at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia.

ARKANSAS: Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson of Montgomery Lanier in Alabama has orally committed to the Razorbacks.

UCF: Offensive guard Steve Edwards was named to the first JCFootball.com JC Transfer All-American Team. The team consists of 25 former junior college players who played their first season at the Division I level.

YOUNGSTOWN ST.: Defensive coordinator Jon Heacock was chosen to take over as coach following Jim Tressel's departure for Ohio State. The Division I-AA school and Heacock agreed to a five-year deal with a base salary of around $90,000.

- Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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