Renewed Hunger

<b>Clay Shiver</b> won the Jacob's Blocking Trophy as the ACC's top offensive lineman in 1994 and has been tabbed by FSU coach Bobby Bowden as the best center he has coached in his career at FSU. Shiver, a member of the Seminoles' 1993 national championship squad, believes this year's FSU team can be special, too. "I see a greater unity in this team and a greater hunger. And when you have those two components, it's really limitless what you can do regardless of the talent level," he said.

Does Florida State have what it takes to make a national-title run this season?

Former Seminole center Clay Shiver thinks so.

Sure, Shiver admits that FSU's recent struggles have been frustrating. As is the case with a nationally recognized program, the Seminoles' troubles have been exposed for all to see. Shiver says, for whatever reason, the past two FSU teams have lacked unity and hunger.

But this is a new year with new hopes.

"I would say greater hunger," said Shiver, who anchored the Seminoles' offensive line as the starter at center for three seasons, including the 1993 national title year.

"I grew up with three older brothers and they used to wear on me pretty good. As I looked back on it, it was really good for me -- it was exactly what I needed. The one thing we always had in common was we stayed close as a family. We could argue or fight, but if someone… we were able to rally around each other. That's what I see here (at FSU). I see a greater unity in this team and a greater hunger. And when you have those two components, it's really limitless what you can do regardless of the talent level."

Shiver won the Jacob's Blocking Trophy as the Atlantic Coast Conference's top offensive lineman in 1994 and was tabbed by FSU coach Bobby Bowden as the best center he had coached in his career at FSU. Shiver realizes the importance of winning and how it can help create a positive atmosphere.

"Winning takes care of everything," Shiver said.

"Adversity in my experience and throughout my life has always produced character. I see a greater level of character on this team. I think the past two seasons have produced that and produced a hunger to say, ‘Look, I want to be back where we were.' I am excited where they are headed this year and what they have a chance to do."

Shiver, a pastor in a local church, also has gotten to know FSU starting quarterback Chris Rix the past three years. Shiver looks for Rix to have a breakout season, thanks in large part to his maturity level and leadership skills.

"I think the problems he's had the last couple of years has produced a greater level of character in him, which translates into a better leader," Shiver said.

"Not just a leader with words, but he has a greater level of maturity, a greater character that has produced a greater leader. Sure, some of it (adversity) was brought upon himself. But on the field an off, he has proven with his action to his teammates that he's worthy to lead and be followed. I am excited about him as a young man and as an athlete."

Shiver also likes the potential of the Seminoles' young offensive line. The unit's second group also features three true freshman and a redshirt freshman. Once again, Shiver points to a renewed hunger that can help drive a team to great heights. Even national title levels.

"I don't think the age of the player has much to do with it as everyone would say," Shiver said.

"Granted, you would love to have a seasoned vet. But sometimes those seasoned vets are kind of looking down the road a little further than maybe they should or maybe they've played long enough that it kind of become old hat to them and they lose a little bit of hunger. So having a nice balance between guys who have been in the war and new guys coming up who are hungry in making name for themselves.

"They've watched Florida State for all these years and they want to come in and make something happen on the field. Sometimes that can create a nice balance. Having talked with coach Heggins (offensive line coach) and seen some of these young offensive lineman, they certainly have the skills to do it. It's just a matter of putting it together."


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