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College Football briefs

By Compiled from Times correspondents and wire reports

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 24, 2000

Polley cleared to playin FSU's season opener

TALLAHASSEE -- Linebacker Tommy Polley has been cleared by team doctors to play in Saturday's Pigskin Classic against Brigham Young at Jacksonville.

The senior, who tore his anterior crucial ligament in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4, has recovered from his off-season knee surgery.

"I'm going to be excited (to play), but not too overly excited," Polley said.

Coach Bobby Bowden said Polley's return will help a defense playing several true freshmen because of injuries.

"It's a pretty big boost," Bowden said. "When (Polley) is in there, and you watch him work, he's very active."

Linebacker Brian Allen (high right ankle sprain) is still questionable for Saturday's game. Allen is ranked second on the team in tackles with 101, eight behind Polley.

-- Alex Abrams

Gillespie will start in season opener

GAINESVILLE -- After fellow tailback Robert Gillespie was selected to start Florida's season opener against Ball State, sophomore Earnest Graham said his teammate deserved the honor.

"He's the best running back on the team, and he should start," Graham said. "Every day there is a different person having a better day, and that's motivation within itself. With all of us in the backfield, you can't help but play hard because you want to stay on the field."

At the beginning of preseason practice, coach Steve Spurrier said there may be one running back who will carry the ball 20-25 times a game for the Gators. Running backs coach Lawson Holland said Gillespie may be that guy.

"With Robert starting the ball game, if he does well, he may get a lot of carries," Holland said. "Robert certainly is physical enough he could carry a bunch of times."

LACKLUSTER PERFORMANCE: The Gators made little progress in their practice Wednesday afternoon, Spurrier said.

Florida had just one practice on the first day of classes after ending their two-a-day practice schedule with a scrimmage Tuesday.

"It was a lackluster day, lackluster," Spurrier said. "Maybe we made a little progress somehow, but not much."

GAFFNEY TOUCHDOWN: In the Gators' last scrimmage, freshman Jabar Gaffney caught three passes for 34 yards and one touchdown.

The wide receiver was released from his scholarship last fall but earned a spot during spring drills.

"I feel that I have improved a lot since I first came in," Gaffney said. "I pick up some more size, a little bit of speed. I learned my playbook, which was a big problem for me when I first came in, and after sitting out I realize how much I missed it."

ALEXANDER NOMINATED: Junior Bennie Alexander was selected for the Jim Thorpe Award 2000 Preseason Watch List. The Jim Thorpe Award is presented annually to the best defensive back in college football.

-- Debi Jones

Young Rattlers catching on

TALLAHASSEE -- Coach Billy Joe is happy with the way FAMU is preparing for the season opener Sept. 3 at Delaware St.

"I think we're moving as fast as can be expected with the new talent on the team," said Joe, who led FAMU to the Division I-AA semifinals last season. "But we have a lot of young, inexperienced people out there."

The Rattlers' final preseason scrimmage Saturday should help determine the lineup. Joe said "no job is secure until they earn it or re-earn it. No one has a complete hold on their position and all of our ballplayers are aware of that."

-- Jabari Ritchie

Around the country

ALABAMA: Andrew Zow, who has started 20 games the past two seasons, will enter the season as the starting quarterback. Coach Mike DuBose named the junior his starter for the season opener at UCLA on Sept. 2. Zow beat out sophomore Tyler Watts. "Both will play, but Andrew's the one that will get the majority of the reps from this point on," DuBose said. ARIZONA STATE: Quarterback Ryan Kealy, suspended while facing charges of driving under the influence of drugs, will return as a student assistant but not as a player. Coach Bruce Snyder said the arrangement will last through the first two games of the season. After that, he may be allowed to play again.

ARKANSAS: Wide receiver Sam Breeden made his debut on the practice field. The transfer from Butler County (Kan.) Community College had been awaiting academic clearance to join the team.

NEBRASKA: Defensive tackle Loran Kaiser had his appendix removed, leaving him questionable for the season opener next weekend, coach Frank Solich said.

-- Times wires

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