Dream Come True

Fabian Walker made his collegiate debut Saturday against the Maryland Terps and appears poised to settle in behind starter Chris Rix at quarterback. Walker has had to overcome a number of obstacles to fulfill his dream of playing for the Seminoles. "It's a dream come true," Walker said Sunday, a wide grin breaking across his face. "I've been through a lot. I think it's going to pay off in the long run. I'm just very thankful. It hasn't been an easy road."

It took Fabian Walker four years to fulfill his dream. Saturday night at Maryland, Walker stepped on the field as Florida State's quarterback. In a game. Behind center.

"It's a dream come true," Walker said Sunday, a wide grin breaking across his face. "I've been through a lot. I think it's going to pay off in the long run. I'm just very thankful. It hasn't been an easy road."

That's certainly an understatement. Walker has faced a number of obstacles since graduating from Americus High School (Ga.) in 1998.

For starters, Walker did not meet academic requirements and joined the team in January 2000. However, Walker's standardized test score was thrown out by the NCAA Initital-Eligibility Clearinghouse. He went to a junior college and returned to FSU last year, but the ACC ruled he had to sit out the 2001 season. Walker entered the season No. 3 on the depth chart behind Chris Rix and Adrian McPherson. Additionally, he suffered a partially torn labrum in his right throwing shoulder during preseason drills.

Walker had yet to throw a pass at FSU until Saturday against the Terps, when he replaced starter Chris Rix in the fourth quarter.

Walker completed his one and only attempt, a 39-yarder to Craphonso Thorpe.

"My mom said the phone was ringing off the hook, telling her to turn on the TV and to read the papers," Walker said. "It felt good to know that because people in Americus haven't seen me play football since I graduated from high school. That was in '98. They're very supportive and I'm thankful they got a chance to see me."

Walker has positioned himself as the Seminoles' No. 2 quarterback, as Adrian McPherson is likely headed for a medical hardship. McPherson told coaches Saturday that he could not go into the game due to his bum ankle. Walker said Sunday he doesn't blame McPherson for wanting to sit out this season. Walker, McPherson and Rix are all sophomores.

"If I was in his position, I would have gone ahead and redshirted," Walker said. "All of us are the same class. It wouldn't make any sense for me or him to sit on the bench and waste a year like that. That's just too much talent with him. I think it would be the best thing for him."

Quarterbacks coach Daryl Dickey said Sunday he was glad to see Walker finally get his opportunity.

"Glad to see Fabian was able to get some work," Dickey said.

"Again, I was glad that he was able to get in there and get some playing time. Fabian has a lot of natural composure and has managed our offense very well. I was very, very pleased with how he went out there, his outlook of the game and what his situation was -- able to get out there and get some snaps for the first time - really happy for that and happy for him."

Walker said he neither apprehensive nor nervous about making his first career appearance.

"I don't think I get nervous. I didn't have any butterflies," Walker said. "I feel like I've been doing this all my life. I was relaxed out there. I got in the huddle and talked to the linemen, looked at them and said, 'I am finally here. Just block for me, because if I have time I promise you I'll make something happen.' I felt really good.

"On that pass, the only thing I was thinking about was to get a completion. I'm going in and going to throw a deep ball. I didn't want to overthrow or underthrow him. I just wanted to put it in a safe spot where he's the only one who can get the ball. I really wasn't expecting a deep one on my first pass."

Of course, it wasn't that long ago when Walker probably didn't even expect to play. Now, he's possibly an injury away from being the Seminoles' starter.

"That's my dream," Walker said.

"I don't want to wish bad on Chris or anything like that. He's doing great right now, he's getting wins for us and that's all that matters. If anything were to happen, I'm going to make sure I'm ready to go in and hopefully continue to win games for us. I kind of know the offense like the back of my hand.

"The offense will get better. We're moving the ball up and down the field, thanks to the offensive line. As long as the offensive line can stay healthy and continue to get better and better, we're going to be tough to stop no matter who is behind center."

For Walker, Saturday was a dream come true. Now he simply wants to continue to build on that experience.

"I was a little frustrated about not getting as many reps as I wanted to," Walker said of his long journey.

"All I could think about is good things come to those who wait. I've been very patient. I think it will pay off for me. I know what I'm capable of doing on the field. I think I could have done a whole lot better. The throw I made, the run I made -- I was a little timid. I was holding back. I didn't feel like I could let loose, because I just got in there and was forced to do this, do that. I never just get in the long drive to just get me going. I could never get in the long drive."

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