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Arrested Development A twice-busted college star is tearing up the Arena Football League

April 19, 2004
April 19, 2004

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April 19, 2004

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Arrested Development A twice-busted college star is tearing up the Arena Football League

No, it wasn't Florida. Heck, it wasn't even Duke. When Adrian
McPherson--Florida State's starting quarterback two years
ago--threw five touchdowns last Sunday, he was whipping the
Carolina Cobras of the Arena Football League.

This is an article from the April 19, 2004 issue Original Layout

This isn't the way it was supposed to work out--with McPherson,
20, putting up big numbers for the Indiana Firebirds, winners of
five straight. But each game is another step in the quarterback's
quest for redemption. McPherson, the only high schooler to win
Florida's Mr. Basketball and Mr. Football awards, saw his
Seminoles career end abruptly 12 games into his sophomore season
after he was accused of cashing a stolen check. He was charged
with felony theft, then later was charged with misdemeanor
gambling for allegedly betting on Florida State. He pleaded no
contest and got 90 days in a county work camp, 30 months of
probation and 50 hours of community service.

McPherson never regained his NCAA eligibility but says he didn't
despair. "People were saying things that weren't true, but I
didn't have any control over it," he says. "My parents helped me
stay levelheaded." In December he accepted an offer of a
three-year, $120,000 contract from the Firebirds. A starter in
the last seven games, McPherson has passed for 1,644 yards and 27
touchdowns while running for 12 more--stats comparable to Kurt
Warner's when he played Arena ball in the mid-1990s.

Now McPherson hopes to follow Warner into the NFL. Though he
can't be taken in this month's draft because he hasn't filed the
necessary paperwork, the 6'4" McPherson, who has bulked up from
185 to 210 pounds since his Florida State days, is likely to get
an invitation to training camp as a free agent--despite his
checkered past. Says draft analyst Jerry Jones, "Some team is
going to take a chance just because of his ability." McPherson
thinks his comedown enhanced his character. "I feel like it was a
blessing," he says. "I take football, I take my life a lot more
seriously than I did then. It was a situation where you hated
that it happened but were glad that it happened because it made
you change." --S.P.

COLOR PHOTO: RON HOSKINS (MCPHERSON PLAYING) BOUNCE BACK With his legal woes in the past, McPherson is eyeingthe NFL.COLOR PHOTO: BRUCE BREWER/AP (MCPHERSON IN COURT)