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A Gentleman And a Scholar
Rick Reilly
December 27, 1993
Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward, the Heisman Trophy winner, is as all-American as a young man can be
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December 27, 1993

A Gentleman And A Scholar

Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward, the Heisman Trophy winner, is as all-American as a young man can be

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It ought to be football. In two years Charlie has lost only two football games. Almost every ball he throws ends up where it's supposed to. He completed nearly 70% of his passes this season—a school record—and threw seven times as many touchdowns as interceptions.

His receivers find him very catchable ("like Montana," says Seminole quarterbacks coach Mark Richt), and defensive linemen find him very uncatchable. This year he has been sacked only once for every 38 times he has passed. You talk about doing a nifty little cha-cha.

Virginia defensive tackle Ryan Kuehl said in October, after the Seminoles swamped the Cavaliers 40-14, that Charlie made his team "look like fourth-graders out there." Seminole wide receiver Tamarick Vanover says, "Playing with Charlie Ward is like going to Disney World. He's a magical person." Miami coach Dennis Erickson says Charlie is "phenomenal."

"If I had to play against him," says teammate Abraham, "I'd be sure to get the chicken pox."

Some NFL scouts aren't crazy about Charlie's arm strength on deep sideline routes, but most aren't worried. And in this era of the no-huddle shotgun quarterback, who would be better than Charlie? In fact, Charlie handles reads and offenses so well that Bowden finally just gave up and instituted an offense—the Fast Break—that allowed Charlie to improvise from the shotgun.

Charlie isn't saying which way he's leaning, but one of his goals is to be taken in the first round by both the NFL and the NBA, a feat never accomplished in the history of the two leagues. "That," says Charlie, "would be a dream."

He could play in both, you know. Play a full NFL season, rest a bit, and then try his luck with some 10-day NBA contracts in the last quarter of the basketball season. "Hmmmmm," says Charlie. Nah. "I could do it." he says, "but I'm not going to. I want to have a life."

Former Redskin Super Bowl quarterback Doug Williams thinks Charlie would be crazy not to choose football. "I doubt there are four NFL starting quarterbacks better than Charlie Ward," he says.

Of course, you can't call Williams objective. Williams went to school with a woman named Betty Dunn Smothers, who became a police officer in Baton Rouge. Last January, Officer Smothers, working off-duty, was escorting a grocery store owner to a night bank depository when they were fired on by three men who jumped out from behind some bushes. She was dead before she could defend herself.

Four thousand people went to her funeral. One week later, her son, a high school quarterback named Warrick Dunn, went to Tallahassee on his official visit. He decided Florida State was where he wanted to go to college, and he was offered a scholarship as a running back. Williams called Charlie Ward, whom he had once met, and asked him to "look out for" the kid when he arrived.

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