Monday, January 31, 2011

Riding shotgun on recruiting trip to FSU

National Signing Day, the High Holy Day in high school football recruiting, always brings back memories.

Like this one.

It was spring of 1997 when I was still in Boca Raton.

Florida State was after Steve Bellisari, Boca High's junior quarterback and All-State safety.

He, his older brother Greg, sister Amy, and their folks, Art and Marybeth, were like family to me.

So FSU invited Steve and his tight end, Frank Conrad, to attend the Garnet-and-Gold spring game at Doak Campbell Stadium.

Problem was Art and Marybeth were both tied up that Saturday. Art was Boca High's girls softball  coach and Marybeth had some other obligation. Ditto for Frank's mom.

So guess which responsible adult they asked to accompany their sons to Tallahassee?

Yours truly.

Steve's folks got us a rental car and we departed Boca before dawn that Saturday for FSU.

I was supposed to take a turn driving, but these two young hotshots didn't bother with this middle-aged slowpoke.

If I didn't know better, I'd swear we set some kind of land-speed record on the way up.

I don't think we could've made Tallahassee any faster had we flown.

After we arrived, we were greeted by an FSU co-ed whose name I forget, but whose sweet Southern accent I will always remember.

When I asked her where she was from, the Marianna native said; "Maay-ree-annaaah."

I can hear her still, sigh!

That was the highpoint of the trip for me.

The game got shortened by a ferocious downpour.

When Steve and Frank met with the FSU coaching hierarchy, offensive coordinator Mark Richt, who was Boca High's QB when I got there in 1978, ushered them into the inner sanctum while I cooled my heels outside.

That night we crashed at the apartment of one of my neighbor's sons.

"Leave the silverware!'" greeted a sign when we got there.

We headed home early Sunday morning and got to Boca Raton safe and sound.

Mission: Accomplished.


I'd have loved to make that trip a few more times had Steve cast his lot with FSU on national signing day and played for the Seminoles.

He signed with Ohio State, instead.

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