Full Speed

<b>Craphonso Thorpe</b> never realized one joint could cause so much aggravation. Thorpe played last year in second gear after being diagnosed with a bone chip in his left big toe. Injured during two-a-days, Thorpe says he was never felt healthy until FSU's Sugar Bowl against Georgia. "It hampered me in a lot of ways. In the way I run, how fast I could run, how I push off. I couldn't accelerate," Thorpe said. Back at full strength, Thorpe is poised for a breakout year.

Craphonso Thorpe never realized one joint could cause so much aggravation.

"You don't really know how much a toe plays a big part of your route running, and stopping, blocking, everything…and you are hurting," Thorpe said. "It hampered me in a lot of ways. In the way I run, how fast I could run, how I push off. I couldn't accelerate."

As one of Florida State's most gifted wide receivers, acceleration obviously plays a key role in Thorpe's success downfield for the Seminoles.

Thorpe played the entire regular-season last year in second gear after being diagnosed with a bone chip in his left big toe. Injured during two-a-days, Thorpe says he was never felt healthy until FSU's Sugar Bowl against Georgia.

"I sat out most of two-a-days last year," said Thorpe, who will wear a protective covering over the toe this season.

"When we played Iowa State (in opener), I think I went in for maybe one play. I could barely run. It never got better. It was just one of those things they said I had to play through. It never felt right until the Bowl game. The good thing now is it doesn't bother me at all."

That's good news for the Seminoles.

Thorpe, a junior standout from Lincoln High School, is the team's leading returning receiver with 16 receptions for 337 yards, three touchdowns and a team-best 21.1 average per catch. He's expected to anchor a talented but unproven unit that enters with plenty of questions.

FSU lost its top three pass-catchers from last year in Anquan Boldin, (62-977 yards, 12 TDs), Talman Gardner, (37-619-8) and tailback Nick Maddox (19-173-1).

In addition to Thorpe, FSU also returns juniors P.K. Sam (13-162-0) and Dominic Robinson (9-143-0) and senior Joey Kaleikini (zero catches). JUCO transfer Chauncey Stovall and redshirt freshmen Chris Davis and Lorne Sam also will be counted on to contribute.

Despite questions, offensive coordinator/receivers coach Jeff Bowden believes he has the right balance of speed and possession-type players to succeed. Another issue a year ago was toughness - especially when it came to making the difficult catch. The unit also had more than 35 dropped passes last season.

"I like this group a lot, especially after what I saw in the spring," he said. "The big thing we want is consistency."

Thorpe agrees.

"A lot of people have us underrated," Thorpe admitted. "We are going to come out and prove ourselves. The key is consistency. Like I said, we are not going to sit here and tell people we are going to do this and do that. We are going to let our actions speak for everyone."

PRODUCTIVE SUMMER

There's no denying FSU has enjoyed a productive summer. Attendance and enthusiasm are high.

"Everybody has been working hard," Thorpe said.

"It has been coming along real well. Me and JB (Jeff Bowden) talked about it just last week -- everybody is real pleased with the way we are coming along. We are real excited. We can't really tell people that. ... let's just say we are real excited about this upcoming year."

To many, FSU no longer seems as invincible as it once did, even though the Seminoles won the ACC championship last season and have been tabbed to win it again this year. Still, three other teams -- North Carolina State, Maryland and Virginia -- have improved and appear poised to challenge the Seminoles for league supremacy.

In an oft-repeated message this summer, Thorpe says the Seminoles must play as a team to be successful.

"I just felt the key reason we were losing last year was because we weren't playing as a team," Thorpe said.

"Not that we weren't necessarily better than the next team. We just didn't play as a team. When you can't play as a team, there's no way you can win. I mean we can't beat my high school if we don't play as a team….everybody going out with their own individual goals. We have to put everything together and that's what we are doing this year."

Like his teammates, Thorpe also points to the summer progress of quarterback Chris Rix, who was plagued by troubles on and off the field last year.

"Definitely. I am real impressed with Chris' progress right now," Thorpe said.

"Even when we go out on seven-on-seven, he's making his reads a lot faster. He's getting the ball to the receivers. He's hitting the backs in the flat. It's touch passing -- he's not drilling the backs anymore. He's really progressing."

HEALTHY OUTLOOK

Thorpe also is concentrating on his game as well. Athletic ability is not an issue. He emerged last spring as one of the track program's top sprinters, earning All-ACC Outdoor Performer of the Year honors after winning the 200m in a time of 20.87.

Although slowed by a tweaked left hamstring this summer, Thorpe realizes his success depends largely on his health.

"I feel like as long as I stay healthy, I will be okay," Thorpe said.

"In football, you are never 100 percent. You never feel perfect. As long as I can stay healthy. … I can play through pain, that's not a problem. But as long as you don't get to the point of having to miss games and missing reps. Basically, getting hurt comes with the game of football. Nobody has ever played and never got hurt."

Thorpe also is anxious to take a lead role with the Seminoles.

"Right now, there's a lot of different leaders out here," Thorpe said. "I just do it and let other people follow what I do. I am going into the season with I want to give 100 percent in every practice. Give them every thing I have in the weight room. I want people to see my work ethic.

"I am not real big on telling people to do this, do that. We have enough people on the team and enough coaches telling people to do that. We don't need another person, in my eyes, saying let's go, do this, do that. We need people who are going to actually do it instead of just talking about it."


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