To Stay or to Go?

TALLAHASSEE – Despite the trials he has endured this season, Florida State tailback Leon Washington says he has no regrets.

At least that's what he is telling Lorenzo Booker, his backup who faces the same decision that he encountered last January – bolt early for the NFL or saddle up for another season with the Seminoles.

"I told him, ‘you've been without money this long'," Washington said. "You can wait another year."

Also influencing Booker's decision is Washington's experience this season. After he led the team with 951 rushing yards a season ago, injuries and FSU's shift to a more passing-oriented focus hampered Washington's bid for an impacting final impression. The Jacksonville native has just 400 yards to his credit heading into the Orange Bowl Jan. 3 against Penn State.

Booker, who started three games while Washington was sidelined with an ankle sprain, leads the Seminoles with 550 rushing yards.

"Honestly, I'm leaning towards staying," Booker said. "But I am looking into my (draft) status and where I could potentially go."

Booker – the nation's top tailback recruit according to when he signed with the Seminoles in 2001 – redshirted during his first season on campus and is just 15 credits short of obtaining a social science degree. Depending on course offerings, the Ventura, Calif. native could finish up as early as this spring.

"I can get my degree quickly, so it's something where I could take like one class in the fall," Booker said. "That's very encouraging. My mom doesn't want me coming home without that."

Heading into the season, Booker earned the title of strongest player on the team (pound-for-pound) for the second time in his career. Weighing in at 190 pounds, Booker's bench (371 pounds), squat (490) and hang clean marks (385) were more than enough to edge out linebacker Ernie Sims, whose numbers were handicapped since he weighs almost 40 pounds more.

Booker's draft projections are far from clarion – a sampling of internet projections has the shifty tailback as high as the third round and bottoms out with him being passed over altogether.

FSU coach Bobby Bowden's opinion is a little more definite.

"I don't know of hardly anyone who wouldn't benefit by staying another year; you've got to get better in another year," Bowden said. "The bottom line is not to sell yourself cheap. See the question is: Can he play now? Oh yeah, they all can play now. You're going to sell at this price or or you're going get your full price. I always feel another year will be best for them, but I support them, whatever they do."

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