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Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Cromartie to miss 2005 season

Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State cornerback Antonio Cromartie will miss the 2005 season after tearing a ligament in his left knee, the latest setback for a program already hit hard with illness, academic and legal troubles.

Cromartie tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during voluntary workouts Tuesday.

Florida State trainer Randy Oravetz said Cromartie will undergo surgery next week to repair the knee.

"You just have to believe that things happen for a reason," Cromartie said Wednesday. "If I do everything the trainers and doctors tell me to do, I'll be back ready to go for next season."

Cromartie tied for second last year in the Atlantic Coast Conference with four interceptions and scored a pair of defensive touchdowns -- one on an interception and the other on a fumble return.

"He was right there on the verge of becoming a dominating player," defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews said. "What it does now is open up an opportunity for one of the other cornerbacks to become a starter."

Andrews said he'd begin fall practice next month with sophomore J.R. Bryant in Cromartie's spot at left cornerback opposite senior Gerard Ross.

In 1993, the Seminoles lost starting defensive backs Corey Fuller and Steve Gilmer before the season began, but went on to win a national title with their replacements and quarterback Charlie Ward, who won the Heisman Trophy.

But this year they'll be going with a brand new quarterback -- either Xavier Lee or Drew Weatherford. Both are redshirt freshmen.

The Seminoles lost junior quarterback Wyatt Sexton for the season after he was diagnosed last week with Lyme disease. And the status of linebackers Ernie Sims and A.J. Nicholson, the team's two leading tacklers a year ago, is also in doubt for the season opener against Miami on Sept. 5.

Sims was arrested last week following an early morning fight with his live-in girlfriend outside a university residence hall. Nicholson had a pair or run-ins with local police, including a misdemeanor DUI.

Clifton Dickson, the team's most dominating interior defensive lineman in the spring, was declared academically ineligible and must graduate from a community college before he can be readmitted to the university.