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HAYES CAN FOCUS ON NFL

Linebacker Geno Hayes' legal problems have been resolved at the most opportune of times.

Hayes entered a pretrial diversion program and recently completed the terms, leading to the state attorney's office dropping all charges from his Sept.21 arrest on three misdemeanor charges (disturbing the peace, resisting an officer without violence and assault on an officer).

He didn't have to admit guilt and community service was waived. He did have to send a letter of apology to the officers and sign a waiver that he wouldn't sue the officers who subdued him with a Taser.

Hayes is now looking to raise his stock for the April 26-27 NFL draft at the league's scouting combine, which began Wednesday in Indianapolis and runs through Tuesday. It's not just about 40 times or reps with weights. NFL coaches and general managers also interview prospects, exploring, among other things, their character.

Hayes still has to resolve a charge of driving with a suspended license, but he has a valid license now, and that case should end with a fine and court costs. Meanwhile, senior fullback Joe Surratt, who missed all of last season with a broken leg and was arrested along with Hayes outside the nightclub, still faces a felony charge of battery on an officer and a misdemeanor resisting arrest without violence.

STRETCH RUN: The women's basketball team (15-10, 5-5 ACC) begins its final four regular-season games tonight against Boston College seemingly in control of its NCAA Tournament chances. It needs to hold serve at home (after a trip to No.4 Maryland on Sunday, the Seminoles end with home games against Miami on Feb.28 and Clemson on March 1) and win at least one ACC tournament game.

"I think what we have to do is have 18 or 19 wins," coach Sue Semrau said.

The Seminoles, who have reached the NCAAs the past three years, including their first Sweet 16 appearance last year, don't have a dynamic win but have played the nation's 36th toughest schedule, according to CollegeRPI.com. The game against Maryland should nudge that up.

"There are some things working in our favor after all the things that have worked against us," Semrau said.

Her team has spent much of the season in flux; Tanae Davis-Cain, Alysha Harvin and Angel Gray all have served nine-game suspensions and Britany Miller was declared academically ineligible and has been out since the Dec.16 game.

"There's a lot of extenuating circumstances," Semrau said. "We've had 14 different starting lineups. This team has only played together for seven games now. But we're hopeful. We're continuing to grow as a team."

BASEBALL IN THE AIR: It may be spring training for the pros, but it's the real thing for FSU beginning Friday against visiting Duquesne. The youthful Seminoles are No.12 in Collegiate Baseball's Top 25 but unranked in Baseball America's poll, so they do have something to prove.

"For us to be successful," coach Mike Martin said recently, "a lot of freshmen are going to have to surface."

Mike McGee is expected to start in left, except on Sunday when he'll be the starting pitcher. Tyler Holt should be in center and Stuart Tapley at third. Jack Posey likely will share time at designated hitter. Tyler Everett, Ryan Vigue and Geoff Parker (Zephyrhills) all could be key relief pitchers. Martin hopes pitcher Jon Gast will be back by midseason after Tommy John surgery.

THIS AND THAT: Men's basketball signee Chris Singleton,from Dunwoody (Ga.) High, will play for the East team in the McDonald's All-America game next month. ... Soccer standouts Becky Edwards, Amanda DaCosta and Ella Stephan are in the running to earn a spot on the under-20 U.S. women's national team that will play in the U-20 World Cup next fall in Chile. ... The men's golf team, led by senior star Jonas Blixt, has moved to No. 9 in the nation by GolfStat, a statistical outlet the NCAA uses in selecting teams for region championship play in May. FSU moved up six spots after a second-place showing at the Gator Invitational this month. ...Freshman shortstop Ashley Stager was named the ACC player of the week.

Brian Landman can be reached at landman@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3347.

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