Smith retires from Vikings at age 28

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Once again, Robert Smith has eluded his pursuers.

The agent for the 28-year-old running back confirmed yesterday that Smith is retiring after eight seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. He is leaving the NFL at the top of his game much like a 31-year-old Barry Sanders did before the 1999 season and at the height of his earning power as an unrestricted free agent.

Smith, who announced his decision in a brief statement Tuesday to The Cleveland Plain Dealer, let his reasons for leaving remain a mystery.

In the statement, Smith thanked his family and friends, fans and the Vikings organization.

“I also wanted to thank my teammates and coaches for believing in me throughout my career,” he said.

Vikings coach Dennis Green said Smith will be missed.

“Robert has always been a guy that the National Football League has been able to count on as a shining example of quality character off the field and 100-percent effort on the field,” Green said in a statement.

UNLV wants another chance at postseason

LAS VEGAS (AP) UNLV asked the NCAA yesterday to let the university”s basketball team play in the postseason this year.

After a three-hour presentation before the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee in Chicago, UNLV president Carol Harter said she was hopeful the ban would be rescinded.

“I feel we presented a compelling case before the committee and I do hope they give us very serious consideration on this matter,” Harter said.

The NCAA is expected to issue its decision before the Mountain West Conference tournament in the first week in March. UNLV (13-9) is banned by Mountain West Conference rules from playing in the conference tournament, too, because of the NCAA ban.

The postseason ban was part of a four-year probation handed down by the NCAA in December after UNLV was found to have violated rules in the recruiting of Lamar Odom in 1996 and 1997.

Florida State recruiting class named No. 1

TALAHASSEE (AP) Florida State is No. 1 in Recruiting Wars 2001, that is.

The Seminoles rebounded from their loss to Oklahoma in the national title game with a recruiting haul that blew away the competition, Sooners included.

Quarterback Joe Mauer, considered by some the nation”s No. 1 prospect, is one of several top-100 players who chose FSU.

With coach Bobby Bowden calling signals, Florida State signed three high school All-Americans in quarterback Joe Mauer, running back Eric Shelton and linebacker Chauncey Davis yesterday, then rounded out its class of 2005 with three other stars rated among the nation”s top 25 players.

“It”s a slam dunk for Florida State,” Allen Wallace of Laguna Beach, Calif.-based SuperPrep Magazine said. “They completely dominated the state and that means they completely dominated the nation. Nobody else comes close.”

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