January 16, 2004 - by
Notes From The Press Box

Notes From The Press Box

/graphics/spacer.gif” width=5 height=4 border=0> P.K. Sam will forego his Senior season to enter the NFL draft
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P.K. Sam will forego his Senior season to enter the NFL draft

Jan. 16, 2004

By Rob Wilson

Leaving early for the NFL seems to be in vogue right now among college juniors. A total of 33 underclassmen have already announced that they will forego their senior year and enter the draft. The decision by junior wide receiver P.K. Sam actually brings to light the remarkable record that Florida State has in terms of high profile players choosing to stay in school. Leaving early for the NFL really became a publicized option in the mid ’80s and a list of FSU players who have turned down literally millions to play their senior season would just about fill up this column. But when you consider the departure of Sam, also consider the likes of Deion Sanders, Pat Tomberlin, Dexter Carter, LeRoy Butler, Derrick Brooks, Corey Fuller, Clay Shiver, Warrick Dunn, Reinard Wilson, Andre Wadsworth, Sam Cowart, Samari Rolle, Peter Warrick, Corey Simon, Jamal Reynolds, Derrick Gibson, Tommy Polley, and Javon Walker who all returned for their senior season with “first round” NFL dollars being wafted in their face. There are certainly more than appear on this list, but these guys definitely sat at the table and weighed big money against their senior seasons.

Looking even closer at FSU’s brush with early draft entries again reveals the program’s success in keeping players home. Since 1980, just 15 active FSU players left early to enter the NFL draft and nine of those players were on NFL rosters to start the 2003 season. For those keeping track, the early departures and dates of their final FSU season were: Sammie Smith (’89), Terrell Buckley (’91), Amp Lee (’91), Marvin Jones (’92), Sterling Palmer (’92), Corey Sawyer (’93), William Floyd (’93), Derrick Alexander (’94), Devin Bush (’94), Tamarick Vanover (’94), Peter Boulware (’96) (note: he had already graduated from FSU), Walter Jones (’96), Larry Smith (’99), Sebastian Janikowski (’00), and Anquan Boldin (’03). Those of us championing the “stay in school” theme will not bother to point out that Boldin was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year this year and in 1997 Peter Boulware was NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and Warrick Dunn the Offensive Rookie of the Year.

On another note, Sports Illustrated, a publication known recently for never missing any chance to take a shot at the Seminoles, allowed a positive note to slip by in a Rick Reilly article. Reilly is among the most talented writers in the history of the magazine and his The Life of Reilly column on the last page of the issue dated Dec. 29-Jan. 5 is a must read. Just one page long, Reilly story about a tearful father approaching him to sign something for his dying child who is a huge sports fan is a masterpiece of concise writing. You will fight back your own tears as Riley skillfully captures the moment in 22 lines in the magazine. But what will be of interest to FSU fans is that his column goes on to describe his own love of sports and what he would do given one year to live. He makes just two college football references. He says he would go to “the Midnight Yell Practice at Texas A&M.” He then writes, “I’d call Bobby Bowden on his listed phone number and talk trick plays.” High praise indeed!

Former FSU star J.D. Drew is much closer to home now having been traded by the St. Louis Cardinals to the Atlanta Braves. Drew is pleased with the move in no small part because it puts him near Hahira, Georgia, his hometown, and Tallahassee where he might get chance to see brother Stephen play shortstop in his senior season.

Speaking of baseball, the renovated version of Dick Howser Stadium is sure to take your breath away. Fans will be absolutely thrilled with the final product which includes a new scoreboard that will feature a video board. The RSVP’s by former players has been overwhelming for the Grand Opening on January 31st and we will release the star-studded list a little later this month. Fans can get a tour of the facility on Sunday, February 1 – just keep an eye on the website as to time and gate locations.

Softball season is also right around the corner and Seminole fans should watch closely for another landmark win for head coach Dr. JoAnne Graf. Coach Graf is just five wins shy of her 1,000th career fast pitch softball win. Her contributions to intercollegiate softball have already been noted on a national level as she was inducted into the Softball Hall of Fame during the fall.

The opportunities for women in sports continues to grow and three of our softball players will get a chance to continue their careers in a new professional league. Brandi Stuart, Jessica Van Der Linden and Elisa Vasquez have all been drafted by the new league which is sponsored by Major League Baseball. By the way, Van Der Linden is engaged to FSU linebacker Michael Boulware.

FSU’s men’s tennis team was ranked among the nation’s Top 35 teams (32nd) in the first (preseason) poll of the season.

The College Swim Coaches Association Poll came out yesterday and both our teams have moved up in the rankings. The Men are currently 24th up from 25th last month. The Women are currently 18th up from 19th last month. The 18th place ranking is the highest rank in the last 5 years (and therefore probably the last 10 to 15 years, maybe ever!)
I hope soccer coach Patrick Baker’s distinction as National Coach of the Year did not go unnoticed. He was named the top coach in the country last Thursday and, of course, led the Seminoles to their first ever appearance at the College Cup, which is the Final Four of women’s soccer.

Recent decisions by the NCAA have made the possibility of playing a “championship game” in the ACC for football next year nearly impossible unless Boston College is cleared to join the league. The addition of the Eagles appears impossible until the 2005 season because discussion between Conference USA and the Big East did not prove fruitful, which basically stalled all three leagues.

The annual spring game will be held on Saturday, April 3 this year and will likely be moved to Gene Cox Stadium (the old Capital Stadium at the Fairgrounds). The field at Doak S. Campbell Stadium will undergo work beginning in February to alleviate the drainage problem that surfaced – no pun intended – during the Miami game.

That’s it for now, but there is so much more to get to next time. Follow all the action on our website www.seminoles.com and by watching Seminole Sports Magazine on Sunshine Network.

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