Matt Heinz doesn't have look very far for motivation or support as he continues to rehab from back surgery. His teammates have offered plenty of each thus far this season.
"We have a way different vibe around the team this year and everyone is trying to do their part. I just want to get back and be able to do mine," Heinz said Tuesday.
Heinz, considered a valuable part of Florida State's offensive line, admitted his initial hopes were to return for the Seminoles' home showdown Oct. 11 against rival Miami. However, he realizes that target date could be overly optimistic.
Heinz underwent surgery for a herniated disc on Friday, Aug. 1.
"The back surgery went very well. I am trying to rehab, getting back into running a little, doing some work in the pool, just trying to get back out there and help the offensive line," Heinz said.
"Earlier, I really wanted to come back for the Miami game. But I only have one back and I don't want to push it and come back too early. I want to try to get back out there as quickly as possible to try to help the team."
Heinz, a redshirt sophomore from North Florida Christian, was moved to backup center prior to the start of preseason drills and was expected to provide quality depth behind starter David Castillo. However, he was diagnosed with two herniated discs -- only one needed to be repaired. The other was diagnosed as an "old" injury that can be helped through exercise.
"I started just lifting a few weeks ago," Heinz said.
"I've been jogging around the field a little bit, just trying to get movement back and getting used to being out there very day. They have be doing some low impact stuff, running through the water. Get my back used to have a little bit of pressure on it. I am trying to take it as it comes.
"I still would like to get back for the Miami game -- that would be excellent. But I have to be realistic about things and realize where I am, and it might be one or two games after that."
Heinz said he has not been surprised by the stellar effort from the Seminoles' young offensive line. In fact, Castillo, who has been plagued by injuries during his career, has been commended by coaches and teammates alike for his outstanding play thus far. He has been backed by true freshman John Frady.
"Dave Castillo is probably one of the hardest working people and best people I know," Heinz said.
"He's going to come out to practice very day and give you everything he's got. For us to see him at practice every day -- maybe he's a little bit of a surprise because he has been injured in the past and hasn't been able to play to his full potential. But he has come out there and done everything the coaches have asked him to do. He's playing way above what others may have expected, so that might be why he's a surprise. But he's not a surprise to us because we see him every day."
Although just two games into the season -- the 10th-ranked Seminoles (2-0) are at home Saturday against Georgia Tech (1-1) -- much has been made of this team's personality and upbeat approach. Heinz says it's not a façade. That's why he's so eager to get back on the field.
"It's a totally different vibe around the team where everyone is doing everything for the team, not for themselves," Heinz said.
"We are just trying to win a national championship. I think this year we have better leadership where everyone is focused on doing their job and playing a role for the team. This team is far different than the last two years than I have ever seen. We are more focused than ever."