1. Archive

Seminoles' Minor cuts his own figure

Freshman tailback Travis Minor wore No. 28 during his stellar career at Catholic High in Baton Rouge, La., but he had no problem changing jerseys at Florida State.

"When you think of 28 at Florida State, you think of Warrick Dunn," he said. "He made that number. That's his number. I think 28 has done enough here, hasn't he?"

So No.

23 would suit him fine. Had he felt otherwise, he realized, he would be providing folks in Tallahassee with the most vivid source for comparison between himself and Dunn.

Yeah, as if they needed something else to do that. From the moment he signed, Minor was expected to be the next great Dunn, a product of the same Louisiana high school who rewrote the FSU record book.

But now it is Minor's numbers fueling all the talk of similarities between the two.

In his first start last week against Virginia, he rushed 17 times for 159 yards _ that's more than the team gained in five other games _ and scored two touchdowns. That included an 87-yard romp on the opening play, the fourth longest in school history. He also caught six passes for 68 yards and another touchdown.

Coach Bobby Bowden confirmed Minor will make his second start Saturday against North Carolina State at Tallahassee.

"I don't like to compare him to Warrick Dunn yet," said North Carolina State coach Mike O'Cain, "but he's that type of back. He's got great speed and quickness."

Actually, the similarities between Minor and Dunn start and stop there.

Dunn bobs and weaves until he emerges from a crowd of would-be tacklers and then kicks in the sprinter's speed. Minor, at 6 feet 1 about 4 inches taller than Dunn, is more of a no-nonsense roadrunner.

"Warrick has that little shimmy; it's just incredible. He wiggles around and you can't catch him in a phone booth," longtime Catholic High coach Dale Weiner said. "That's not Travis. He's very economical with his moves, but they're all full speed."

At 10.4 speed, that is, which Minor used to rack up 2,649 yards and 33 touchdowns as a senior at Catholic. He also had 25 receptions for 598 yards and 10 scores and an additional 763 yards and four touchdowns on kick and punt returns.

He was named the USA Today prep offensive player of the year and was largely considered the nation's top prospect. The Seminoles considered him a possible replacement for Dunn.

"We were afraid there for a while he wouldn't come because he might feel he would be under the shadow of Dunn if he came here," Bowden said.

Said Minor: "No matter where I went, I was going to be compared to Warrick some kind of way because we went to the same high school." He eventually chose FSU over LSU (the obvious choice to please his high school supporters), Notre Dame (his father's favorite) and Florida.

Dunn, who has known Minor for years and followed his development, talked to him only once before the signing date and was not a high-pressure salesman.

"I just told him the truth," Dunn said. "I said, "Don't think you're going to go in there and start and think that everything's going to go your way. You're going to have to work to play at Florida State.' He knew that. He didn't want to go anywhere and just be the starter. He wanted to learn."

The first lesson was that past accolades would do him no good. He was starting from scratch, beginning with the jersey choice. The FSU media guide, printed in the early summer, indicated Minor would in fact don No. 28.

"He really showed something to me when he chose not to wear the No. 28 jersey," Bowden said. "He wanted his own identification."

That would take some time. An ankle sprain in the first week of practice prevented Minor not only from catching junior Dee Feaster but from keeping up with fellow freshman Davy Ford and redshirt freshman Vannez Gooch.

Minor had just nine rushes for 15 yards in the first three games. But he did not complain or show signs of frustration. Like Dunn, he quietly continued to work.

Although Bowden planned to give both Minor and Gooch a start this season, most likely in the friendly confines of Doak Campbell Stadium, he opted to start Minor at Virginia, the site of FSU's lone ACC loss.

"Shades of Warrick Dunn," FSU senior center Kevin Long said of Minor's performance.

"There was a lot of pressure on him to perform the way Warrick did, and that makes it tough," added senior quarterback Thad Busby, no stranger to the burden of expectation. "But he's getting better every week. He's showing some signs of greatness, and I think he'll do nothing but continue to get better."

Not that you would hear that from Minor. Like Dunn, he is selfless and unassuming, diverting praise to his offensive linemen, who are improving, and his fellow tailbacks, who are helping him learn the plays and pass-blocking schemes.

"I was just happy I was able to get in there and contribute to the team," he said. "My job is to be ready whenever they call my number."

_ Information from correspondent Kevin Record was used in this report.