TD is highlight of biggest week

Polley's senior season

September 28, 2000

This is the fourth of at least 11 weekly reports from former Dunbar star Tommy Polley, a senior linebacker for the defending national-champion Florida State Seminoles. He will be talking with Sun reporter Bill Free regularly during the 2000 season.

Highlights: There is virtually no way Polley could top the past five days for individual acclaim and excitement. It all started Saturday against Louisville when he achieved one of the ultimate dreams of every linebacker, intercepting a pass and returning it for a touchdown. In this case, it happened in the second quarter and he returned the ball 4 yards for the first score of his collegiate career. What a gift it was for his grandparents, Halley and Larry Polley, who were watching him play for the first time in Tallahassee after making the trip from Baltimore. Then, Polley and the Florida State defense went on to record their first shutout in 23 games with a 31-0 victory over the Cardinals. On Monday, he was named, for the second time this season, as the Atlantic Coast Conference's Defensive Back of the Week. The final thrill came Tuesday, when Polley found out he was getting 72 tickets for family members and friends who will help celebrate his homecoming at Byrd Stadium tonight.

Lowlights: Are you kidding?

Homecoming: "I want to show off," Polley said. "This is my last chance to play at Byrd and it always means something for me to come to Maryland and play." Asked if he would have much time to talk to the 72 people he was able to get tickets for, thanks to the kindness of his teammates, who gave him some or all of their four tickets, Polley said, "If it's not too cold for them to stay after the game, I'll be able to talk to them. I heard it was 50 degrees up there Tuesday."

Roots: Polley said he will always remember spending the first 10 years of his life in Aberdeen before moving to Baltimore. "I never forget my roots," he said. "But my toughness comes from Baltimore. ... ... "Going to Dunbar gave me great exposure in basketball and football. It was a perfect situation for me."

Last laugh: The sight of Louisville's defensive tackle hitting Florida State quarterback Chris Weinke in the back as he scrambled out of bounds in the second quarter seemed to drive Polley to greater heights last Saturday. "That's a mistake," said Polley. "Hit somebody else, but don't hit the big man. Everybody just got fired up."

Slam dunk: Polley's love for basketball is always present. He said his interception and 4-yard touchdown return was "like a slam-dunk." Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden said yesterday that Polley has "the range of a basketball player. He's so improved. I'm crazy about Tommy. I believe his best football is way ahead of him."

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