Like most high school coaches, Ware County (GA) head coach Dan Ragle will be watching the Sugar Bowl this New Year's night. But Ragle is no ordinary coach in the context of this year's Sugar Bowl; he has five players in this year's Sugar including Florida State's brand new starting quarterback Fabian Walker.
Normally Fabian Walker would be one of Ragle's players that got the least amount of attention going into a game this season, but this game is different.
Walker was given the chance to move up from 3rd string to starter for FSU after a series strange events. Adrian McPherson was recently dismissed from the team and Chris Rix was ruled ineligible for the Sugar Bowl. That left the Noles with Walker to lead the offense.
"He's just a heck of a quarterback," said Rage of Walker. "He just brings a lot of intangibles to the game that are all very positive. He has a strong belief in himself with what he can do on the football field." Ragle coached Walker at Americus (GA) High School.
Ragle said that had Walker been given a good look at Florida State, he might have played more minutes this season or even been the starter.
"He's just been sitting there biding his time waiting for an open opportunity," said Ragle of Walker's situation in Tallahassee. "Last year he had to sit out, so he had no opportunity to be in the quarterback rotation. And this year with Rix being the starter for the whole year last year, they knew who was going to be their starter. To me he has hasn't been given the opportunity to step up and show his skills in game situations."
With limited game film on Walker, Georgia's Mark Richt has had to scramble to prepare for a player that he once recruited to play at Georgia. But Ragle doesn't think that Richt will have too much trouble getting ready for Walker.
"I don't think that it's going to be a surprise," said Ragle about Richt's preparations for Walker. "Coach Richt knows what Fabian is capable of doing," added Ragle.
While Ragle feels like Georgia will know what is coming at them, he said that Florida State fans will be pleasantly surprised with Walker.
"I think that the thing that is going to surprise a lot of Florida State fans is that he is going to put the ball in the air. Fabian is not going to come in there scared; he's not going to intimidated by the situation at all. He'll be going in there like he has been the starter all season long,. They're (FSU fans) going to be happy with him," said Ragle
"He'll be ready to play," said Ragle.
But even with all of the focus on Walker, Ragle said that the Nole's new starting quarterback won't be the only reason why he will tune into the Sugar Bowl. His other 4 players will be playing key roles as well.
"There's not question about it," ended Ragle, "I'm going to be watching it. They're all great guys."
But none have an unexpected spotlight on them. Only Walker does.
Dean Legge can be reached here: firstname.lastname@example.org