All Smiles

When Florida State opens preseason practice Wednesday, offensive tackle <b>Ron Lunford</b> is going to try his best to help motivate teammates. Lunford also plans to keep an eye on the Seminoles' newcomers, since they can be easily overwhelmed by the intensity and pace. Lunford can relate. He hit a difficult stretch during two-a-days last summer and wondered if he wanted to continue his football career. Well, Lunford is now a key piece to FSU's offensive line puzzle.

When Florida State opens preseason practice Wednesday, offensive tackle Ron Lunford is going to try his best to help motivate teammates.

Lunford also plans to keep an eye on the Seminoles' newcomers, since they can be easily overwhelmed by the intensity and pace.

Lunford can relate.

Lunford, a 6-foot-5, 345-pounder from Jacksonville White, hit a difficult stretch during two-a-days last summer and wondered if he wanted to continue playing football for the Seminoles. After missing practice time to re-evaluate his situation, Lunford opted to return.

It proved to be a wise decision.

"Last summer I was frustrated," Lunford said.

"I was going through a couple of personal things -- everybody does. I was going through my trails and tribulations. You have to find a way to get re-inspired and that's what I did. And it has worked out real good for me. I am taking care of business on the football field and in the classroom as well. Academics are just as important.

"I am excited to get started."

FSU reported to preseason camp this morning. The varsity's conditioning test is scheduled for 3 p.m. for those players who did not meet the attendance criteria for summer conditioning workouts (80 percent).

Additionally, due to NCAA rule changes -- team's no longer have consecutive two-a-day practices -- this year's preseason will have an NFL-camp flavor. Plenty of film work and meetings await players.

Lunford, a redshirt sophomore, enters drills as the backup behind Ray Willis at tight tackle. He's expected to provide quality depth to a unit that enters with plenty of concerns.

Lunford has heard the whispers. While critics points to the group's inexperience, Lunford points to its athleticism. Lunford, in fact, gained valuable experience at guard as well last summer before switching back to tackle.

"I feel like we are going to open a lot of people's eyes," Lunford said.

"We have the talent. Sure, we are going to make mistakes but we feel like we are a very athletic group. We just have to get out there and work hard."

Include Lunford in that group.

Forced to go just about every snap during spring drills because of injuries among the unit, Lunford carried that work ethic into summer drills. Not even a weight-lifting mishap -- he slipped and tweaked his right knee while squatting -- slowed his progress. Lunford is one of the team's more personable players, easily grinning and smiling.

"I feel I had a great summer," Lunford said.

"I wanted to get stronger. I wanted to get better. I concentrated on my technique. As you can tell, I am kind of a big guy (laughing) but I need to tone up a little. I feel like I am in better shape than I was a year ago. Plus, my technique is so much better. I've learned the importance of hard work.

"Anytime you work hard, good things happen."

Of course, Lunford -- nicknamed "Lucky" -- and teammates are looking for good things to happen this season.

"The biggest difference I've noticed this year is I can sense there's more love on this team. Honest," Lunford said.

"I meant that from the bottom of my heart. Everyone is buddy-buddy, pulling for each other. We all get along and that, as you know, hasn't always been the case. It's important to have stuff like that. Team chemistry. You need it."

The Seminoles also need an inspired Lunford. And he's going to do his best to make sure his teammates feel the same way.

"I am feeling great. I am cool now," Lunford said and smiled. "We are all ready to get started."


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