Center of Attention

FSU's offensive line is the team's biggest question mark this preseason, and there's no denying the coaching staff has a major issue at center as well. Still, starter <b>David Castillo</b> is confident the Seminoles will be ready and prepared for their season-opener at North Carolina Aug. 30. "We have to dig it out this year, really get after it and prove to everybody that we are not the question mark of this team," Castillo said. Click here for all the details as FSU opens practice today.

There are days when David Castillo admits he needs to stay in the house to avoid trouble. Take last Sunday, for instance.

Castillo was at the beach relaxing in preparation for the start of Florida State's preseason practice this week. Wanting to get in a quick jog, Castillo figured a workout would be good for the body and soul.

It was -- until Castillo stepped on a sharp object in the sand and cut his foot. While the injury was not serious, it just shows you Castillo's bad luck at times.

Plagued by injuries during his collegiate career, it's obvious the Seminoles need a healthy Castillo to help anchor an inexperienced offensive line. Fingers are crossed, however, since Castillo admitted he has been slowed by a bulging disc in his lower back. He completed the Seminoles' varsity conditioning test Tuesday but it wasn't easy.

"It has been tough," said Castillo, a redshirt junior form West Palm Beach who enters the start of practice today as the Seminoles' starting center.

"The middle of the summer, I was doing power clean (weight lifting). I couldn't control it well enough and I landed funny. I have a bulging disc in my lower back and I have been doing pool workout ever since. This was the first time I ran in months. My back got real stiff on me."

FSU's offensive line is the team's biggest question mark this preseason, and there's no denying the coaching staff has a major issue at center. Castillo, who started three of the last four games last season, has a history of ailments that have kept him out of action at times.

Andrew Henry-Kennon, the reserve center who reported out of shape at 310 pounds, sustained a hamstring and slight knee injury as he struggled to complete the conditioning run. His status for practice today is uncertain.

Another possible backup, Matt Heinz, had back surgery on a herniated disc last Friday and will be out for at least two months. That will mean that true freshman John Frady might be asked to step in and perform No. 2 center duties.

Even Castillo quickly admitted the Seminoles have plenty to prove.

"We had one of the best offensive lines in the country last year with the four or five seniors we had, and we lost them all," Castillo said.

"We have a lot of guys who are inexperienced, guys with a couple games and everybody on the line is banged up in some way. So, yes, we are definitely a question mark. But we have to dig it out this year, really get after it and prove to everybody that we are not the question mark of this team."

Castillo says the line has to make sure it doesn't hold back the Seminoles' offense, which is loaded with talented skill. The Seminoles return their top passer, three of their four top rushers and a bevy of explosive receivers.

"We have to step it up, no question," Castillo said.

"We have talent at quarterback. We have talent, a lot of talent, at running backs. We have great talent at wide receiver. Our fullbacks, tight ends, everybody. It's just the offensive line.. … we have some inexperience. We really need to work hard during two-a-days and during practice and get ready for North Carolina (opener Aug. 30)."

It's not all doom and gloom. FSU certainly has its share of talent along the line as well.

Alex Barron and fellow tackle Ray Willis are considered the unit's cornerstones. The pair has combined for 17 career starts -- Willis 12, Barron five. Both, however, had offseason arthroscopic surgery -- Willis shoulder and Barron knee. Castillo and tight guard Bobby Meeks also have starting experience.

Two familiar, but inexperienced, players are expected to play vital roles as well -- Matt Meinrod at split guard and Eric Broe, who has dropped nearly 50 pounds from last season, at tight guard. Ron Lunford is also expected to be in the mix at tackle.

Redshirt freshman Cory Nib lock and incoming freshmen Mario Henderson and David Overmyer will be eyeballed very closely during drills as well.

"Depth is our main concern on offensive line but we've dealt with that in the past," Castillo said.

"There have been times where a redshirt freshman or a true freshman has had to play and this year is another time that could happen. Losing Matt Heinz is definitely going to be a big problem for us because he was one of those guys who was a backup for two or possibly three positions. He has played tight end here, he has played both guards, he has played center. It's unfortunate for him. I have dealt with injuries and I know how hard it is on him right now."

Despite the hurts, Castillo realizes the importance of hard work. Not to mention a dose of good luck as well.

"We haven't proven anything yet but that doesn't mean we won't," Castillo said. "We are looking forward for the start of practice so we can get out there and start working. We need to get it together, and we will."


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