John Crist: The last time your name came up at the Florida State football office, the scuttlebutt was that you were preparing to apply to the NCAA for a medical redshirt and a fifth year of eligibility. Why did that line of thinking change and you instead decided to go ahead and turn pro?
Andrew Datko: I got injured after the Clemson game [Sept. 24], so I had time to think during the season. It wasn't like, OK, the season is over and it's time to make a decision. I had a couple months to think about it and just talk around and ask people. But I felt like, because I graduated this past semester, I feel like having graduated and played four years it was time to move on and then explore other options.
JC: The talk back in preseason camp was that you were finally healthy, maybe for the first time in your Seminoles career. How long was it before you said to yourself, "Uh oh, my shoulder doesn't feel right again"?
AD: During the summer when I was weightlifting, it felt great. There was no pain anywhere. It was getting stronger. And then probably it was about a week into camp where my shoulder started getting real sore, like real sore and [I] really couldn't move it. And then that one practice, I couldn't even move my arm. ... But it didn't feel like I tore anything. It was just like, Why can't I move my arm? So they took me out of camp for the rest of camp, and they told me I would be good for the season. But then before the Oklahoma game [Sept. 17], it started coming back. Like, I didn't feel right, and it just never got better after that. But I remember going to Dr. [James] Andrews, and he was like, "You were doing too much too early with your shoulder. You should have... leaned into things." It was just by camp time I figured my arm didn't feel the same like it did during the summer.
JC: It sounds like there was some miscommunication involved with your rehab. Do you take responsibility? Is the FSU training staff in any way culpable?
AD: When you get so anxious to keep playing, I think maybe we didn't communicate on the same line. I just wanted to go back out and play. I should have maybe taken it a little slower maybe coming back.
JC: So here you are, basically robbed of your senior year, and you're forced to watch from the sideline. There is talent all over the field, but the season didn't go as well as the 'Noles had hoped. The offensive line took the lion's share of the criticism. What was that like for you?
AD: It's kind of frustrating. You're on the sideline, and you can't do anything except maybe talk to a player like on the O-line to try to help. But that's the only thing you do, and you want to so bad. You want to so bad go on the field and help out, but you can't. You've got to almost control your emotions on the sideline, because sometimes I was so anxious and sometimes [you] get frustrated that things weren't going right and I couldn't do anything about it, almost blaming myself not being out there. It was kind of hard at times, but I learned how to cope with it.
JC: In the Champs Sports Bowl, in addition to your fellow senior, Zebrie Sanders, starting vs. Notre Dame, coach Jimbo Fisher started four true freshmen: Josue Matias, Austin Barron, Tre' Jackson and Bobby Hart. Some were surprised that Fisher made the decision to go with all four in the first place. Now that you're gone for good, fans want to know if these youngsters are going to develop the way you did. Can you put their fears to rest?
AD: It wasn't a surprise that Jimbo started all four because, when me and Zebrie and [David] Spurlock were freshmen, all three of us started as true freshmen along with two sophomores, with [Rodney] Hudson and [Ryan] McMahon. So even back then, they already had experience with playing with young offensive lines and how to deal with it, so I knew it was going to work out. But I also helped them by talking to them. Like, I was in their shoes at one time, and I tried to help them cope with it. I know, all four of them, they're definitely going to be good, especially having that experience at the bowl game going into the offseason. All four of them, maybe with the exception of Barron -- he still needs to get a little bit bigger. But all of them have the size already that all three of us when we started as freshmen didn't have. So they already have an advantage there. Josue is already probably like 310 [pounds]. He was only a freshman, and Bobby and Tre' were like 300-plus, too. So they've already got that advantage there. ... I really want to see how much they progress going into next season.
To find out who now-former FSU offensive tackle Andrew Datko thinks is destined to be the next All-ACC lineman for the Seminoles, Click Here.
John Crist is the editor-in-chief of NoleDigest.com, a Heisman Trophy voter and a member of the Football Writers Association of America.
Nole Digest Q&A: OT Andrew Datko
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