FSU Football Notebook

Fabian Walker never really got his chance to star at quarterback in his time at Florida State. Walker was on center stage with his new team Saturday night, leading Valdosta State to a 36-31 win over Pittsburgh State in the Division II national championship game. Several of his former teammates were happy to hear the news.

Wide receiver Lorne Sam was one of Walker's closest friends on the team. Each running with the second team, the pair connected often during scrimmages and practices during Walker's time with the Seminoles.

"I'm really happy he got to go somewhere that gave him an opportunity to show what he had," Sam said. "He was a great athlete here, he just never got an opportunity to show people what he could do when he was totally healthy. For him to get up there and be healthy and go a whole season without having to worry about losing his job is good for him."

Sam's sister actually covered the game for a local television station.

"I'm gonna get the inside scoop from her," he laughed.

Walker completed over 71 percent of his passes and racked up 23 touchdown passes and over 3,000 passing yards for the Blazers this season. He added 403 yards and five scores on the ground.

Walker decided to transfer to VSU following last season. He made his only start in the 2003 Sugar Bowl but a shoulder injury limited his effectiveness and forced receiver Anquan Boldin to take over late in the game.

"I'm really happy for him," Sam said "I called him earlier this week to wish him good luck. Apparently he's doing real good up there."

"It's good for Fabian," added tailback Leon Washington. "He's gone through a lot of adversity. This chance was good for him."

CASTILLO QUESTIONABLE: Center David Castillo wants to contribute against West Virginia in the Gator Bowl Jan. but he's also concerned with his future.

Castillo is still suffering from a dislocated finger on his right hand he sustained against N.C. State. The junior saw limited action in relief of Brian Ross in the season-ending loss to Florida Nov. 20.

"I'm going to do whatever it takes to correct it," he said. "I want to be doctor someday and I'm going to need my hands, especially if I want to be a surgeon."

Both Castillo and coach Bobby Bowden said that they would wait tomake a decision closer to the date of the game.

Castillo said he sustained tendon damage in his middle finger and that a pair of painkilling injections got him through the Florida game.

"All that banging got to it," Castillo said. "It was wearing off a little before halftime. That's when it started ringing a little bit."

Ross, a senior, played most of the game in relief at N.C. State and started against Florida. Ross is a former walk-on.

The oft-injured Castillo also missed the season-opener against Miami.

"I'll do whatever it takes to beat West Virginia," he said. "Whether that's coming in to spell (Ross) or getting the start – I'll do whatever. It's totally up to (the coaches)."

Bowden is optimistic about the prospect of Castillo suiting up.

"I am hoping with 21 days off we can get healthy again and really go after it," he said.

LEON LOOKING: Washington is currently scouting around for extra tickets for the contest opposite the Mountaineers. The Jacksonville native said he has a few dozen relatives interested in taking in his homecoming in the Gator Bowl.

"A lot of them can walk to the stadium," he said. "I grew up about five minutes away."

Washington, was named class 3A's Mr. Football as a senior at Andrew Jackson High, says he's excited about the chance to perform for a familiar audience.

"It will be like high school again," Washington said. "In high school I had all of my family there for me. I am anticipating a big crowd up there."

HENSHAW V. HENSHAW: Tight end Matt Henshaw will also see a familiar face Jan. 1 – his family connection will be lining up across from him. Henshaw's older brother, Mike, suits up at safety for the Mountaineers' defense.

"I am extremely excited to possibly play against Mike," Matt Henshaw said. "The greatest thing for me is that this is his last game of his football career. I not only get to see it, I get to be there and watch him play first hand, which will be the first game that I ever got to watch of his. It will also be his last so it's really special to me."

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