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December 19, 2005
QB featured in book
The following is an excerpt from the newly released book, "Signing Day: An inside look at the high-pressure, high-stakes world of college football recruiting."
The book profiles the recruitment of four highly regarded college football prospects: Darius Walker, Drew Weatherford, Brad Allen and Erik Walden.
Walker now is Notre Dame's starting tailback; Weatherford is Florida State's starting quarterback; Allen plays tight end for Vanderbilt; and Walden is finishing up a stellar season at quarterback for Gulf Coast Community College in Mississippi.
The section on Weatherford focuses primarily on his efforts to help Florida State snare a top-ranked recruiting class and his feelings about being overshadowed by fellow quarterback recruit Xavier Lee.
In this excerpt from Chapter 18, Weatherford is heading home to Land O'Lakes after his official visit to Tallahassee. Meanwhile in Daytona Beach, Lee is announcing his college plans at a school banquet.
For more information on this book, which was co-authored by Atlanta-area sportswriter Corey Clark and the Osceola's Ira Schoffel, please visit the Web site, www.signingdaybook.com.
While Drew was on his way home [from his official visit], another potential FSU quarterback, Xavier Lee, was getting ready to make his decision public. Almost since the day he first committed back in July, Drew had been hearing about the Daytona Beach standout.
Would he be upset if Lee came to FSU as well?
Was he worried?
Did he think he could beat Lee out?
Even though Lee had not made it official yet, most everyone that followed his recruitment figured he would choose the Seminoles when it was all said and done.
"Kids will mention it to me," Drew said. "They'll be like, 'You don't care that Xavier Lee is coming?' And I'm like, 'No, that's just going to make our team better.'"
On Sunday night, about the time Drew and his family got back home, Lee made it official at his high school banquet.
He was going to be a Seminole.
Florida State had managed to snare two of the best quarterbacks in the nation, though one was getting substantially more attention from Internet reporters and fans.
Part of this was due to the fact that Drew committed so early and there was no drama in his decision. Lee, who was named Mr. Football in the state of Florida, had dragged his out almost as long as possible, deciding to announce on January 25 - a few days before Signing Day.
Also, Lee was rated the higher of the two prospects. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound star was a five-star recruit and had played in the U.S. Army All-American game earlier in the month. He was considered the best quarterback in the South and maybe the best in the nation by recruiting experts.
He had broken the state's all-time passing yardage record. He was, in many people's eyes, the biggest recruit for FSU in the Class of 2004.
To get an idea of just how much attention was focused on Lee and his recruitment, on the night of his announcement, there were more than 1,400 people logged onto Florida State's Rivals site waiting for his decision.
Fourteen hundred people. Taking time out of their Sunday night, to get online and see where a high school quarterback would be attending college.
As soon as he announced, there were threads everywhere on the FSU message boards, saying things like, "He will lead us back to the Promised Land." "He is the chosen one." "He will go down as the best QB in Florida State history."
Some people even had the audacity to wonder if Lee would leave after his junior season for the NFL. The kid hadn't even thrown one college pass and he was already being anointed as a future first-round pick.
It seemed as if Drew had been all but forgotten. Many of the same fans that were so fond of him when he was helping the Seminoles recruit now figured he would be a career back-up and might even transfer after Lee beat him out.
The message seemed to be pretty clear among most FSU fans: Drew Weatherford was a nice pick-up, but Xavier Lee was the Big Fish of the 2004 recruiting class.
"I take that as motivation," Drew said. "Definitely. I know this is a different step, but I've never had to sit the bench behind somebody in anything in my entire life. And I'm going to do everything I can, not taking anything away from him, but I'm going to do everything I can to win the job.
"If I don't, then that's God's will and that's fine. If he's better than I am and our team is better off with him leading us then that'll have to be. But I don't think that will be the case."
You don't get to be one of the best prep quarterbacks in America by lacking confidence. Drew had plenty of it. He also had plenty of athletic ability as well.
So often in football, quarterbacks can be stereotyped by the color of their skin. Lee was black, so many people figured he was a much better athlete than Drew. They figured he could run much faster and jump much higher than his white counterpart, and that simply wasn't the case.
Drew was an exceptional athlete too. He ran the 40-yard dash in less than 4.6 seconds. He was a shade under 6-foot-2, but he could dunk a basketball with ease.
Despite the numbers he put up on the football field, at safety and quarterback, and the basketball court (he averaged over 14 points per game his senior season), Drew was automatically considered the less athletic of the two.
"It's just a stereotype I guess that will always be there," he said. "It's something you're going to have to deal with. It doesn't really matter too much to me, to be honest. I don't really think about it too much, but it always does come up. He's the athletic guy and stuff like that. But I don't even talk about it really. Let them think what they want to think."
Lee, of course, was a very fine athlete himself. And an extremely talented quarterback. He didn't set all those records and get all those recruiting stars by accident. He could really play.
Lee had a tremendous arm and great presence in the pocket. He also had some pretty good wheels of his own when forced to run.
"He's very talented," said Drew, who had never seen him play in person but had thrown with him at various camps they both attended. "Extremely athletic. He's a great quarterback."
Unless catastrophe struck, neither quarterback would be starting for the Seminoles in 2004. Starter Chris Rix would be returning for his senior year, and backing him up would be redshirt sophomore Wyatt Sexton.
But behind Sexton was going to be where the real battle was waged.
Whoever was named third string would have the upper hand at skipping past Sexton to become the starter in 2005 - or at least taking over after he graduated in 2006.
It was going to be quite a battle over the next few years between Drew and Lee, but so far anyway, it was not a contentious one.
"I've met him several times and we're very friendly," Drew said.
No animosity at all?
"Not on my part," Drew said. "I don't feel any of that. I can't speak for him, but I feel like everything is fine. And my perspective on it is just that he's going to help us out and he's another talented player."
Florida State seemed to be getting plenty of them in the 2004 recruiting class.
As the final week before National Signing Day began, it seemed like every day the Seminoles got another commitment from a prep star.
And though it may have not been a major factor, it certainly didn't hurt that the star quarterback from Land O'Lakes, the one who was overshadowed by another in-state quarterback for much of the season, had been working the phones all fall and winter long.
"Man, we're going to have a squad," Drew said as signing day approached.
Whether that came true or not, he certainly had done his part.
For more information or to order the book, "Signing Day," visit the Web site, www.signingdaybook.com, or call toll-free 1-877-308-9218.
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