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College football around the state

By ALEX ABRAMS, Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 26, 2001

Memo to FSU's Rix: Don't get comfortable

TALLAHASSEE -- The last time Florida State turned over its football fortunes to a two-sport star it won a national title.

Could it happen again?

Adrian McPherson, the first to be named Mr. Football and Mr. Basketball in Florida, is pushing for playing time at quarterback for the sixth-ranked Seminoles, who are headed into Saturday's opener at Duke without any experience at the position.

"A freshman, another freshman and another freshman," coach Bobby Bowden said Friday about his quarterback prospects. "But they've got talent."

The lanky McPherson, who claims to carry 170-something pounds on a 6-3 frame, was slated to sit out a redshirt season while Anquan Boldin or Chris Rix handled the quarterback chores, but a season-ending injury to Boldin changed those plans.

McPherson, 18, was 3-for-7 for 45 yards with one touchdown and one interception Friday night, leading the second-team offense during Florida State's final scrimmage. Rix was 1-for-2 for 3 yards.

"He's just so poised," Bowden said. "I don't know whether it's from his basketball or what, but he seems to be pretty calm."

Rix, from Santa Margarita, Calif., is two years older than McPherson and has the benefit of one spring practice under his belt at Florida State. "He's our starter and I sure hope he plays well," Bowden said, adding he wouldn't hesitate to put McPherson into the opening game if Rix struggles.

Bowden remembers replacing another two-sport athlete, Charlie Ward, in the second game of his junior year at Clemson when Ward was struggling.

Of course, Ward went on to lead the Seminoles to their first national title in 1993.

But Ward wasn't thrown into action until shortly before his 22nd birthday.

"The biggest thing is trying to learn the offense and adjust to the speed of the game," McPherson said. "As the days go by I am getting more and more comfortable."

STEIN SHINES: Walk-on kicker Jesse Stein, a 1999 graduate of Shorecrest, is the leading candidate for the kickoff job, linebackers coach Joe Kines said. Freshman standout Xavier Beitia has the accuracy, but not the distance. Sophomore Brett Cimorelli, from Brooksville, has struggled. -- ALEX ABRAMS, TIMES WIRES

Bulls bolstered by fan turnout

TAMPA -- About 500 fans turned out to watch as USF closed its two-a-day schedule Saturday and looked ahead to its first season in Division I-A.

"The numbers go up every year," coach Jim Leavitt said of the crowd. "I'm so appreciative to this community, and the support we have received is very humbling."

The workout closed with a two-minute drill that featured a long scoring strike from Marquel Blackwell to Hugh Smith in the back corner of the end zone. -- TIMES WIRES

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