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DIABETES CAN'T SLOW TAILBACK

His worries far behind him, Middleton's Carlton Jones signs with FSU.

After Middleton tailback Carlton Jones was diagnosed with diabetesin 2006, his teary-eyed parents, shocked by the prognosis, worried about their son's long-term health.

"There was a lot of emotion that day," said Jones' mother, Dana Gyden.

Jones was scared, too. But for different reasons.

"I thought I'd never be able to play football again," he said.

Once given the go-ahead to compete, Jones didn't look back, though he has had to deal with more than a few inconveniences.

Before Middleton games, he gave himself shots of insulin. On the sideline, he typically kept a stash of Capri Suns on ice, and he once got an energy boost by eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at halftime.

The 5-foot-11, 215-pounder, who signed with Florida State on Wednesday, produced 1,000-yard seasons in 2006 and 2007. Jones had orally committed to Toledo before the Seminoles jumped into the picture in January then offered him a scholarship last week.

"It doesn't seem real," Jones said. "It's a dream come true."

PRESSURE COOKER: Three weeks before national signing day, King punter Daniel Zychlinski, who signed with Stanford on Wednesday, had only one Division I-A scholarship offer - from Toledo.

But in January, Zychlinski flew to Las Vegas with his father for an elite kicking combine attended by dozens of Division I-A coaches. After a strong showing, offers poured in from schools such as Air Force, Colorado State, New Mexico, UNLV, Rice and Stanford.

"I actually got a few offers on the spot," Zychlinski said.

Had Zychlinski bombed, he might have come back empty-handed.

"There's a lot of stress because you have to perform when it counts," Zychlinski said.

Zychlinski's full ride to Stanford is worth about $49,000 per year.

HE'S A GATOR ... HATER: Leave it to Hillsborough High senior Moses McCray to give signing day some drama. The touted defensive lineman, who orally committed to Florida State, opened up the Terriers' signing day conference with a joke.

McCray had two hats, a bright orange Florida hat and a Florida State hat his late father, Ralph, used to wear. McCray first put on the Florida hat, drawing gasps (and later laughs) from the crowd, including motherVanessa.

McCray, who admitted he was just "trying to have fun," soon put on the red FSU cap then made it official by signing with the 'Noles.

ODDS AND ENDS: Wharton linebacker Josh Powell, who signed with Army, had a surprise visitor - his father. Bill flew in from Kentucky. ... Before seeing highlights of Appalachian State's monumental upset of Michigan in the fall, Middleton quarterback De'Andre Presley knew "nothing" about the Mountaineers. Wednesday, he became one. Once he arrives on campus, Presley will have the chance to play with All-America quarterback Armanti Edwards. ... While glowing about the accomplishments of Plant receiver Derek Winter, who signed with Auburn, Panthers coach Robert Weiner called him the "best player in the state of Florida," and the "Picasso of the football (field)."

Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.

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