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Times' Blue-Chippers face decisions today

ST. PETERSBURG - Today, the first day when college football teams can sign recruits, is a day of suspense for at least two players.Linebackers Lateef Travis of Pensacola and Marvin Jones of Miami, the top two prospects on the St. Petersburg Times Blue Chip list in Florida, may unveil their plans today.

Which way will they go?

No one could ask Travis, considered the state's No. 1 prospect in a poll of Division I recruiting coordinators. He did not attend classes Tuesday at Pine Forest High and he does not have a telephone.

"He's hiding out," said Travis' coach, Jerry Pollard. "They (Florida and Miami) have been calling. I'm going home and taking my phone off the hook."

Travis has narrowed down his considerable list of potential colleges to Florida and Miami.

Jones, from Northwestern High, also was indecisive. His final choice will be made between Miami and Florida State.

FSU, meanwhile, got a commitment from another Parade magazine All-American when Clifton Abraham of Dallas announced Tuesday night that he would sign today with the Seminoles instead of Miami. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound cornerback told the Dallas Times-Herald that FSU was "a team on the rise and he wanted to catch them on the way up."

The Seminoles also are after two other Parade All-Americans - Miami linebacker Fred Jones and Atlanta wide receiver Andre Hastings.

Miami received another oral commitment Tuesday when Fort Lauderdale defensive back Malcon Pearson chose the Hurricanes. Other recruits high on Miami's wish list are Miramar runner Reggie Hudson, wide receiver A.C. Tellison of Bay City, Texas, and Hastings.

Of the 13 high school seniors on the Times Blue Chip list, 10 have announced their intentions. The latest to declare is Lakeland High lineman Johnny Footman. His mother, Martha Shaw, confirmed Tuesday night he will sign with Grambling. Others who have committed include Northeast High quarterback Jay Austin (Florida) and Plant City lineman Brian Osborn (Auburn). Please see chart, this page.

The three who have not announced their choices are Travis, Jones and Jacksonville defensive end Jamie Turner, whose choices include Minnesota, South Carolina, Texas-El Paso and Central Florida. Turner will not make a decision until he receives the results of his college entrance test on Feb. 20.

Some of the recruits will not be eligible to play next year because they did not meet minimum scores on college entrance tests (the SAT or ACT ) or do not have the necessary 2.0 grade-point average in their high school core courses. Travis has not yet passed his college entrance test (he takes the ACT Saturday), and he needs to pass all his classes this semester to have a sufficient grade-point average.

Travis is not the only recruit that Florida and Miami are wrestling over. Baraka Short, a linebacker from Miami who had originally committed to the Hurricanes, now says Florida is a possible choice.

The Gators are also still hoping to land West Palm Beach wide receiver Chris Jones, who has narrowed his choices to Florida and Michigan. The Wolverines have reportedly offered Jones a chance to wear the No. 1 once donned by Anthony Carter.

- Times staff writer Rick Stroud and correspondent Randy Cremer contributed to this report.

Dial for recruiting information

Florida and Florida State have phone numbers for up-to-date information on today's signees. Florida State's number is 1-904-644-1553 (8 a.m. to midnight). Florida's number is 1-800-344-2867 and will be updated beginning at 1 p.m. After 5:30 p.m. only callers with a touch-tone phone can get through.

For information on statewide signees, a toll number is available: 1-900-860-1012. The charge is $2 for the first minute and $1 for each additional minute.

- KEVIN THOMAS

THE TIMES BLUE-CHIP LIST Name Pos. High school College Lateef Travis LB Pensacola Pine Forest Florida, Miami.

Marvin Jones LB Miami Northwestern FSU, Miami.

Oscar McBride LB Chiefland Orally committed to Notre Dame.

Billy Glenn DL Daytona Seabreeze Orally committed to Florida St. Terry Dean QB Naples-Barron Collier Orally committed to Florida.

Larry Kennedy DB Sarasota Riverview Orally committed to Ohio St. Brian Osborn OL Plant City Orally committed to Auburn.

Jamie Turner DE Jacksonville Raines Minnesota, South Carolina, UTEP, UCF.

Jay Austin QB Northeast Orally committed to Florida.

Corries Hardy DE Melbourne Orally committed to Miami.

Corey Sawyer DB Key West Orally committed to Florida St. Johnny Footman OT Lakeland Orally committed to Grambling.

Steve Gilmer DB Tallahassee Godby Orally committed to Florida St. The Blue Chips are "can't miss" college prospects as determined by a poll of recruiting coordinators from 15 Division I colleges that recruit heavily in Florida. A minimum of four votes was needed to make this year's Blue Chip list.

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