Looking Ahead

Odell Haggins is not interested in reflecting on last season. Of course, FSU's struggles have been well-documented. While the 'Noles' worth continues to be questioned by collegiate analysts, there's no denying the obvious -- FSU's defense should be much improved from last year. Haggins' interior line is expected to play a key role in that success. Click here for all the details. "If all my kids come back in the shape I expect them to come back in. ... they can get the job done," Haggins said.

Odell Haggins is well aware of Florida State's storied past. Haggins, in fact, was a member of the 1987 Seminole team that ignited the program's unprecedented streak of 10-win seasons and Top Five finishes.

So, it shouldn't come as a surprise when Haggins' smile turned to a frown. He had no interest in reflecting on last season.

"That's one thing I don't want to talk about -- last year. Let's look to the future. I am not talking about last year. Let's look to the future," Haggins said Monday afternoon.

Well, the future is now at FSU.

For the second year in a row in 2002, the Seminoles failed to win 10 games -- a standard that used to be automatic in Tallahassee. In fact, FSU lost nine games the last two years -- equaling its total number of defeats from 1992-99. Haggins, for what it's worth, lost just eight times during his FSU career (1986-89).

But that's old news.

New challenges must be met.

While Haggins enjoyed his summer, he also was anxious to return to the office Monday, saying he spent the day "working on the playbook." There's plenty on the staff's agenda.

The Seminoles' summer camp begins Wednesday and the team's summer workouts are progressing nicely. FSU players continued their testing -- shuttle, broad jump and vertical -- Monday afternoon. They will be timed in the 40-yard dash Tuesday as well as continue their workouts on the Seminole practice fields.

FRESH START

Haggins, who is entering his 10th season with the Seminoles, wants to help change FSU's fortunes. The Seminoles were viewed as the most unworthy team in the Bowl Championship Series last season. Analysts continue to question the program's direction and FSU is not considered a Top-10 contender this year.

Most agree FSU's success will begin with its defense. The Seminoles lost just six players from their Sugar Bowl depth chart (29 players listed). Haggins' interior line is expected to play a key role in that quest, though questions remain.

Haggins had to work with mainly walk-ons during spring drills due to injuries. The news didn't get any better when nose guard Brian Ross, one of the spring's better stories, suffered a broken right fibula during drills. Kevin Emanuel, who moved from defensive end, and Charles Howard were the only scholarship tackles on the spring roster.

Haggins admits to uncertainty.

While senior Jeff Womble continues to recover from Achilles tendon surgery, he's not expected to be full strength at season's start. Fellow veterans Travis Johnson (shoulder) and Darnell Dockett (ankle) also continue to recover from offseason surgery. Additionally, Johnson's legal woes remain unresolved -- he was arrested in April on sexual assault.

The trio accounted for 139 tackles and 29 tackles for loss last season.

Sophomore Broderick Bunkley is fine after suffering a torn MCL when chop blocked during FSU's win over rival Florida last season. Incoming freshmen include Andre Fluellen and Clifton Dickson.

"I don't know who I am going to have healthy," Haggins said.

"Travis (Johnson's legal) situation, (need to) get that resolved. Jeff, he's progressing. And Dockett is looking like his ol' self -- that's what everyone is saying. He's running good. And Bunkley I have a lot of plans for him. And whoever comes in as a freshman and is ready, I am going to look at them."

Haggins doesn't believe he will need Emanuel or any other player to switch position for depth purposes, saying, "If all my kids come back in the shape I expect them to come back in, I don't expect so. They can get the job done."

MESSAGE DELIVERED

Haggins also realizes the importance of team chemistry. A native of Bartow, Haggins was a popular team leader for the Seminoles, earning Kodak, Walter Camp and UPI All-America honors as a senior in 1989 and second-team Associated Press honors as a junior. The 1987 Seminole team finished ranked second nationally, while FSU placed third his junior and senior seasons.

Haggins told his unit to enjoy the summer months, but approach it with a purpose. He also challenged each player.

"My message to them was to go out and mature over the summer," Haggins said.

"I want each one of them to mature in every aspect of their life -- social life, school-wise and football. If they mature socially and school-wise, they will do well on the field. If they don't mature in that, they won't do well. I also told them, hey, even though I have some seniors in there, if I get somebody who is playing better, I am going to put them in there."

Haggins also is a firm believe in positive energy. Bowden questioned last year's team chemistry, saying the quality needed improvement this year. Haggins agrees.

"That's one of the most important parts," Haggins said.

"I've seen teams with less talent win the national championship than a team with great talent. Team chemistry -- that's real big. That's huge. That's one of the most important things out there."

TALENT NOT AN ISSUE

Of course, talent is also important. The Seminoles have plenty of it, however. Where FSU fits on the national stage will be determined by a brutal non-conference schedule that includes Colorado, Miami, Notre Dame and Florida. And let's not forget the ACC is stronger than ever.

Haggins admits there are times when reminds his unit of the program's storied past. While FSU has accomplished plenty, but there's also plenty to accomplish.

"I will remind them and talk to them but sometimes you want them to grow on their own," Haggins said.

"I will have guys who played when I was here come and talk to them and let them know that, ‘Guys, no matter how things go, if you stick together you will fight through it.' That's the most important thing. Just staying together."

The importance of staying together, according to Haggins, is focusing on the future.

Not the past.

"I want to hit the ground sprinting this year -- not running," Haggins said and smiled. "Sprinting and finishing. Not running. I feel confident our kids will be ready."


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