Farris Ready To Throw Footballs

Tuesday, August 22nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Mark Farris is about to find out how well five years of minor league baseball prepared him for Division I-A football.

Age and experience are among the reasons Farris, a 25-year-old sophomore, was named Monday the starting quarterback for Texas A&M in its opener Sept. 2 at Notre Dame.

But the 6-foot-2, 212-pound Farris knows he will have to work hard to keep it over strong-armed sophomore Vance Smith and running specialist Colby Freeman, a redshirt freshman.

Farris' baseball background could help if he can use the lessons he learned about handling success and failure.

``You go 4-for-4 one night and 0-for-4 the next night and you kind of cancel it out,'' Farris said. ``People don't realize you have to bounce back from a good game too. That's one thing baseball taught me, to be on an even keel. Don't worry about what people might say. Just go out and do the best you can.

``Baseball also taught me about competing every day. You don't have a week between games. You have to get ready every day.''

Farris was a top quarterback prospect when he originally signed with A&M in 1994. He threw for 21 touchdowns and 1,831 yards as a senior at Angleton High, earning the nickname ``The Rifleman.''

Then, the Pittsburgh Pirates made Farris a first-round pick in the June amateur draft. An $840,000 signing bonus lured him to baseball.

Farris played mostly at third base and advanced steadily through the Pirates' minor league system, although he missed the 1995 season with a knee injury. He hit .273 in Double-A in 1998, probably his best year in the minors.

The grind of playing baseball every day and having an unsettled home life became too much for Farris. Football felt like unfinished business, so he decided to try the campus life.

``Some people think I was stuck in the minors, but it was just a deal I thought it was time to return to football,'' said Farris, noting that he never repeated a year at any minor-league level.

``There is no other lifestyle like baseball. Now, you go to practice six days and play a game. Baseball is very hard with the family, even if they are out there with you.''

Farris is glad his wife Neocia and 5-year-old daughter Kameryn are settled into one home base.

``They'd have to be coming home off the road now if I was still playing baseball because it's time for her to start school,'' Farris said.

Farris technically is a walk-on. He's paying his own way through school, using his baseball earnings.

Last season, Farris backed up senior Randy McCown and went 6-of-16 for 53 yards in limited duty.