Rix, Florida State's embattled starting quarterback, capped off a solid spring by throwing for 76 yards in Saturday's Garnet & Gold Game at Doak Campbell Stadium and earning the Hinesman Award as the Seminoles' most dominant player.
Additionally, coach Bobby Bowden allowed Rix to meet the media for the first time after being held off limits. Bowden said he wanted to keep Rix focused and distractions to a minimal after Rix was suspended for the Seminoles' Sugar Bowl defeat to Georgia for missing a final exam.
In fact, many fans wondered what was more important for Rix to show progress in this spring - on-field performance or off-field relationships with teammates?
"Coach Bowden thought it was best to try and focus on what was happeing on the field and I totally agree with him," Rix said. "To be honest, I think this has been blown out of porportion. I read things like I've been muzzled, or told be under a gag order, but it's not like that at all. It's worked out real good. I don't think it was the big deal everybody made it out to be."
The Garnet & Gold game, however, was much different.
Injuries and other attrition forced a format change and it wasn't a game in the truest sense. The contest was run in eight- play segments. The defense scored points by thwarting a first down, getting a turnover, returning a miscue for a score. There was no kickoffs or punts.
Still, Rix was pleased with th Seminoles' effort.
Rix led a quartet of Seminole quarterbacks who completed 26 passes for 193 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions.
Waytt Sexton had the best completion rate of the group as he completed five of seven passes for 50 yards. Converted wide receiver Lorne Sam completed three of five passes for 64 yards and one touchdown and Fabian Walker, FSU's starter in the Sugar Bowl, completed one of two for three yards before being held out with a sore throwing elbow. Walker missed most of spring following offseason surgery on his right shoulder.
Bowden believe Rix is ready to assume a leadership role following a turbulent season when his teammates questioned his approach and tactics.
"He's ready. The kids accept him, he's older than most of them, and so now we're back to where we ought to be at that position," Bowden said.
"He had an excellent spring, did excellent work, an excellent attitude, and I think the kids are all very happy about him. He's beginning to learn not to assume. He's 95 percent not assuming. That's about where he is. He was 15 percent before that."
Rix also thinks the Seminoles can rejoin the nation's elite despite headaches on an off the field.
Last week's 800- page gambling probe evoked questions on the athletic department's diligence. Two former players, wide receiver Talman Gardner and cornerback Malcolm Tatum, were arrested earlier this week. On Thursday, defensive tackle Travis Johnson, counted upon for a big season, was charged with sexual assault.
Of course, Rix also has struggled in the past. On the positive side, Rix did say his father is doing much better as family issues also played a role in Rix's behavior last season.
"Without going into it, my father is living in a new house now. He's working again. So the situation back home is much better that it was, Rix said. "The chemistry issue is very impportant," Rix said. "We have all the talent. We have all the depth. It's just the little things and and off the field. We need to help everybody be accountable."
Here's more of Rix's thoughts:
On receivers: The receivers haven't missed a beat. A lot of the question marks that were there, even with me... hopefully we've taken a step in the right direction. We've got a ways to go, but I'm eager to get back here in the summer and start working out again. But I feel it was very positive spring for everybody.
On Personal Strides: "Just being consistent. That's what I've tried to focus on. Not playing up and down. I've got a ways to go... I think this team has a ways to got, were're heading in the right direction."
On becoming a better leader. "I've just tried to live up to my responsibility and everything you need to do on and off the field. I'm really trying to lead by example. Hopefully, the guys will notice it. I haven't really been verbal, just doing it on the field.. talking to the guys... just knowing we have to all get better. I'm communicating with them on the field as much as I can. I think the whole personal level has been better for us on and off the field I'm an upperclassmen now. I know I'm a leader of this team now, whereas before it was a lot more of an uncertain thing. I feel confident in that role. I want the guys to know I'm going to be there with them on and off the field''
On Team Chemistry: As coach Jeff Bowden said, the chemistry is very good right now. The concern is these guys who are injured right now, are they are going to help us, or are they going to bring us down. I'm confident they will help us and this team will be as good as we can be. we're on the right track. Guys are fighting for a common goal and that's to win a championship." \