With the football future of Wyatt Sexton in limbo, FSU may be forced to turn to their two remaining scholarship quarterbacks – Land O' Lakes native Drew Weatherford and former Seabreeze star Xavier Lee – when their season-opener against Miami arrives.
Sexton remains indefinitely suspended from the team and under medical care after he was detained by police on Monday for behaving strangely during a disturbance in a residential neighborhood.
"We are still still devastated about Wyatt and what has happened," Lee said. "Our prayers go out to him. We're just trying to get over that first before we move on to other things."
After two days of echoing that same sentiment, the Seminoles looked like a team ready to move on late in the week. Organized by Lee and Weatherford, over sixty players stayed behind after voluntary conditioning drills to run routes and get some 7-on-7 work in.
Lee handled most of the quarterbacking chores while Weatherford did what he could on his surgically repaired left ankle. Weatherford, who had his cast removed on Thursday, won't be able to plant and cut for another month but should be at 100 percent when two-a-days arrive in August.
Both quarterbacks, teammates say, have taken on a different, more substantial role.
"I think you have to," linebacker Buster Davis said. "The starter's not going to be out here so they have to prepare like they are going to start now. It's just like if I wasn't here, we'd play it like (backup middle linebacker) Sam McGrew was the starter."
Lee – a fan favorite on Internet message boards and a popular voice among teammates – admitted that an obvious opportunity exists despite the unfortunate manner in which it materialized.
"It's very different for me now – now I'm preparing to play instead to preparing to run the (scout) offense," he said. "I'm trying to get myself in the right state of mind."
"Sometimes the door closes for one and opens for another," linebacker A.J. Nicholson said. "Everything that has happened, has happened. You have to move on."
Since their arrival on campus last June, both Lee and Weatherford impressed coaches – Lee with his overpowering arm strength and raw athletic ability, Weatherford with his undying work ethic in the film room and his early grip on the playbook.
That saavy got Weatherford on the field first. In one play against North Carolina last season, he severely sprained that left ankle on a bootleg run.
Weatherford was granted a medical hardship by the NCAA and allowed to take a redshirt along with Lee. Uneasy fans began to call for both when Sexton and Chris Rix struggled during the latter stages of a 9-3 season.
"Right now, we don't now for sure what's going to happen," Weatherford said. "Hopefully Wyatt comes back sooner than later.
"Leading the team, it's exciting. I've been waiting for this opportunity since I was a little kid."
A fellow Daytona Beach native, Davis said that it is exhilarating to see Lee – a childhood and prep comptitor of his – get a chance to take the reigns.
"He's earned the shot," Davis said. "You hate to see him get it this way, but a shot is a shot."
Weatherford traded his boot for a smaller ankle brace and was able to do some throwing Thursday evening. Though he couldn't drop back or plant and was limited to flats routes, touch passes and fades, he look sharp.
"I'm going to take it slow," he said. "I'll be able to get in the pool, then on the bike and then work into some jogging. I won't be able to cut for a couple of weeks....that's about a month away. I expect to be 100 percent by the time two-a-days start."
Weatherford, who was vacationing in Canada with his family last week, returned to Tallahassee last Friday and has been to every conditioning session since.
"You want to be out there competing, but every athlete goes though this at some point. I think it was good for them just to know I was here."
TIME TO MOVE ON
Lost in all the Wyatt Sexton drama, was Nicholson's episode with Tallahassee police outside a bar on the Tennessee strip last weekend. Charges are still pending but Nicholson was working out with the team on Thursday.
"It feels to get out here with my teammates and run around a little bit. We're always trying to get some extra work...something to make us batter and get closer as a team."
Nicholson said that he did not have a court date yet at that coaches had not handed down any repercussions.
"You live, you learn. That'll handle itself. I've learned from it. I've moved on. Now I'm out here having a good time."
On a more positive note, A.J. welcomes brother Derek Nicholson to town Friday afternoon.
"Life's gonna be good," he said. "We'll get him adjusted get him moved in and acclimated and everything this weekend."
A dream involves getting both on the field at the same time.
"That would be something else. I don't there's a word to describe that."