Florida State is fortunate to have continuity from last season to this season, as each and every member of third-year coach Jimbo Fisher's staff has indeed returned for the 2012 campaign.
But it didn't look like that was going to be the case with regard to defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, who reportedly was a candidate for a handful of head-coaching positions around the country, including at Kansas and Pittsburgh.
In the end, Stoops decided to stay in Tallahassee for at least one additional year, and what a year it could be since the Seminoles return nine starters on his side of the football and 33 of 39 letterman overall.
"It was one of those things that you thought about, because he's a great coach and a lot of schools wanted him to be their coach," senior defensive tackle Everett Dawkins said Monday prior to the first workout of spring practice. "It was one of those things that was in the back of your mind, and we talked to Coach Stoops and he told us that he wasn't going anywhere, so I didn't have any worries after that."
Nevertheless, Stoops has two older brothers that are either head coaches now or have been in the past -- Bob Stoops currently at Oklahoma, Mike Stoops formerly at Arizona -- and a lot of FSU smart fans expect him to be at the top of the totem pole elsewhere come 2013.
Pryor returning to his ball-carrying roots
The 'Noles should be featuring a deep and talented backfield in spring ball, but with Devonta Freeman and Chris Thompson battling back injuries and James Wilder currently away from the team due to legal trouble, suddenly the tailback position is a shade on the thin side.
Sure, Florida State is happy to have explosive early-enrollee freshman Mario Pender getting a head start on his collegiate career, but a veteran influence dotting the "I" behind senior quarterback E.J. Manuel would be a welcome sight.
Enter fellow senior Lonnie Pryor, who had been playing fullback for the Seminoles but, at the coaching staff's behest, has dropped a little weight and will see some action at his old spot in the coming weeks.
"I'm excited," said the Okeechobee native. "I came here to play running back, so I'm excited to be back playing there. I'm just excited. I can't wait to be back out there [Monday] and run the ball and have fun. Can't really put it into words. I'm just happy."
The gregarious Pryor was only credited with 74 yards rushing, 61 yards receiving and three total touchdowns in 2011, which were all career lows.
Reid taking his leadership role seriously
A playmaker for the first two years of his career in garnet and gold, senior cornerback Greg Reid struggled here and there this past season and failed to live up to his billing as a candidate for the Jim Thorpe Award.
The Valdosta (GA) Lowndes High School graduate didn't make a play of consequence until returning a punt for a touchdown Nov. 12 vs. Miami, and he wasn't credited with a single interception until the regular-season finale at Florida -- he did get two of them against the Gators, though.
Once rumored to be an early entree into the NFL Draft, Reid said Monday that ne never really considered leaving school and has been drawing rave reviews from Fisher lately for his leadership.
"I feel like I'm the same guy, but it's just a point that now that I'm going on my fourth year... just be mature about it and just try to make everybody just look at me as a leader, to become an impact player," Reid said. "That's what I'm trying to do just by my work ethic, not always about my mouth and just yelling and screaming and hollering and having fun. Even though that's what I do and have fun, but it's about knowing how to do it and the way to do it."
A field corner more often than not at FSU, meaning he lines up on the wide side of the formation, Fisher revealed Monday that Reid could slide inside and play nickel back when the enemy goes to three- and four-receiver sets.
John Crist is the editor-in-chief of NoleDigest.com, a Heisman Trophy voter and a member of the Football Writers Association of America.
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