TARPON SPRINGS — Florida State coach Bobby Bowden has spent a good chunk of his annual tour of booster clubs raving about the promise of the incoming class.
But given an unexpectedly high turnover of underclassmen — nine players, including projected starters Daron Rose, the standout offensive tackle from Jefferson High, and linebacker Marcus Ball — the newcomers must be productive sooner rather than later.
"They're going to have to, and I really think we did a pretty good job scrutinizing guys," Bowden said Friday after a round of golf at the Crescent Oaks Country Club.
"We knew we were going to be absent some players (because of the academic misconduct scandal) and recruited guys who were a little bit more mature and might could help us now.
Linebackers Nigel Bradham and Vince Williams and cornerback Terrance Parks all enrolled in January and heralded defensive end Markus White, receiver Corey Surrency and running back Tavares Pressley are junior college transfers.
"We've got some young kids signed I think might be better than some of the kids that have been out there," Bowden said. "Now can they come in and handle the pressure of it? It will be interesting to see."
Speaking of Rose
Bowden didn't mask his disappointment in Rose, a sophomore who was recently declared academically ineligible and likely to transfer to a community college with an eye toward returning to FSU.
"I ought to spank Rose because it shouldn't have happened to Rose," Bowden said. "Maybe he'll get straightened out and have learned a big lesson about academics coming first."
Wide receiver Preston Parker will be in a Palm Beach County courtroom Monday morning and, unless negotiations are scuttled, he could be pleading out to misdemeanors.
He was arrested last month on a felony charge for carrying a concealed handgun in his car and a misdemeanor charge for possessing 4.81 grams of marijuana.
"He's got to get it reduced down to a misdemeanor or he can't play," Bowden said. "That should happen; it happens to everyone else.
"When that occurs, we coaches have to decide what we're going to do about it. We'll take some action also. He's going to have to pay a little price."
Brian Landman can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3347.