McFadden is looking to recapture that shine at Florida State.
McFadden, a redshirt junior, is considered a key piece to the Seminoles' secondary puzzle. It's no secret McFadden has impressive talent and skills but simply needs repetition. He led the team in interceptions (three) last season and emerged from spring drills as the starter at left cornerback.
McFadden, however, realizes that means little in June, as FSU enters its third week of summer workouts. While the three-day schedule has been well-attended, the balance of the team is scheduled to return to Tallahassee this week. These sessions help lay the team's foundation heading into two-a-day practices in August.
"Right now everyone is concentrating on (summer) workouts and getting better," McFadden said.
"We are looking for a good work ethic and numbers (player turnout). Some people may want to slack off as it gets tougher and tougher throughout the summer. We are looking for consistency and we want everyone to encourage each other. You need to be able to depend on your teammates. The more leaders you have the better."
Polite and personable, McFadden doesn't offer excuses to FSU's recent struggles. The Seminoles are looking to regain past national championship success, though that's much easier said than done. Most preseason publications don't see FSU as a top-10 contender in 2003. The Atlantic Coast Conference is no longer considered a done deal as well.
"Everyone is trying to get back to where we need to be," McFadden said.
"We realize that we have to work harder to be great. Teams want to step on you when your down. When I heard about the rankings… it didn't bother me, because it's about where you finish and not where you start. We know what we are capable of doing."
The same could be said about the 6-foot, 185-pound McFadden, who selected FSU over Miami, Georgia, Tennessee and Michigan. While McFadden's rise with the Seminoles has been steady, he's searching for better consistency and production.
McFadden played in every game last season and was one of only two Seminoles to record a multi-interception game (against Maryland). He also recorded three tackles in a game three times last season. McFadden also has played both cornerback positions (left and right).
McFadden figures one way to improve is to visit FSU's video archive. He has been busy this summer studying clips of former standout Seminole cornerbacks such as Deion Sanders, Terrell Buckley, Clifton Abraham and Corey Sawyer.
"I have always been real physical," McFadden said.
"I am still going to be aggressive, but I need to be doing it in different ways. Right now I am working on my technique. (I) want to be good press corner and a good loose corner. I've been watching film of the old guys, just trying to watch them and to see how they (play). Watching T-Buck, Deion, Sawyer, Abraham. Those were the great corners and they weren't great for no reason. Some time it's good to be aggressive but you also need to look at different things to get the upper hand."
If FSU is to get an upper hand this season, McFadden says the Seminoles must explode out of the gate in their opener against North Carolina. FSU's defense also appears to have the ingredients to be a dominating unit.
The Seminoles' regular-season stats in 2002 were modest compared to past teams -- 21.2 points per game and 372.9 yards per game -- 243.7 passing, 129.2 rushing, and 5.3 yard per play.
"As far as (our) defense, it all starts with the front four," McFadden said.
"We have great D-tackles, great defensive ends who are hungry and ready to play. If you look at any dominating defense, the front four is where it all starts. We also have great linebackers who are ready to make plays. Even our younger guys stepped up this spring. I have all the confidence in the D-line and the linebackers. That leaves us (defensive backs).
"Our job in the secondary is to keep every thing in front of us. The last couple of years everyone has been down on us. We are trying to work together. We are trying to be the strength of the defense. The key is being consistent, not giving up anything deep or big."
McFadden, meanwhile, is looking to come up big.
Just like he did in high school.
"The key is to keep working hard," McFadden said and smiled. "That's what I plan on doing."