Two Horse Race

For freshman quarterbacks Xavier Lee and Drew Weatherford, Saturday's announcement that Wyatt Sexton would miss the 2005 season while recovering from Lyme disease provided a small measure of closure.

With an assumption replaced with a confirmation, the duo can now officially set their eyes on attaining the job that both have had their eyes on since arriving on campus just over a year ago – the role of starting quarterback.

"It does help to have things etched in stone now," Lee said. "My prayers go out to Wyatt and his family as he makes his recovery. I expected to have this chance, I just didn't think it would happen like this."

The announcement ended a month of speculation regarding the Sexton's condition as well as his availability for the season opener Sept. 5 against Miami. The junior was indefinitely suspended from the team June 13 after police detained him for behaving erratically in the middle of a Tallahassee street.

"I think everyone knew that Wyatt might not be joining us this year," Weatherford said. "It does help clear things up a little for us. Now I con focus on beating out Xavier and he can focus on beating out me."

For the first time since hearing the news, both signal callers worked out with teammates on the practice fields Monday afternoon. Prior to running some passing drills, neither Weatherford nor Lee had spoken with each other since Friday.

On Saturday, Weatherford was notified of news by a reporter. Lee found out from his brother, defensive end Anthony Kelly.

With Sexton out of the picture for now, FSU coaches must make a decision between the two freshmen, who have one snap of college experience between them. Weatherford injured his ankle on a bootleg play Oct. 2 against North Carolina when he came on in relief of Sexton.

Other than that snap against the Tar Heels, FSU coach Bobby Bowden had never regarded one over the other when asked about the progress of Weatherford and Lee. Throughout spring practice Bowden referred to them as "2a" and "2b" when depth chart questions arose.

Both quarterbacks – good friends and former roommates – were asked their thoughts about splitting time at the position if that was the decision Bowden were to reach.

"I'm not a big fan of it," Weatherford. "But if that ends up being the case, I think we could do it. I wouldn't mind it. I'd prefer – and I think (Lee) would, too – that one guy gets the job done. One guy starts the season and one guy finishes it. That means we're winning games."

"I think I could handle it," Lee said. "It would give us both a chance to go out there and make plays. (Trading off) would hurt as far as rhythm, but as long as we win games I'd be fine with it."

Last season, Tennessee had success rotating a pair of freshman quarterbacks – Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer – before both went down with injuries. Schaeffer made the decision to transfer in May and is considering South Florida or Clemson.

"If we had to both play, we could do it," said Weatherford, who met Schaeffer at a high school all-star game. "We're good friends."


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