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When <b>Ernie Sims</b> selected the Florida State Seminoles over the Florida Gators in February 2003, the Seminole Nation breathed a collective sigh of relief. Tabbed the nation's top recruit by many recruiting analysts, Sims made his presence felt last season, filling in nicely at linebacker and on special teams. Now, Sims is looking at securing a starting role at strongside linebacker as FSU opened spring drills on Tuesday.

Florida State linebacker Ernie Sims is known for his impressive athletic ability, hard knocks on ball carriers and an infectious smile.

Sims got to show off two of three on Tuesday, when the Seminoles, dressed in shorts, opened spring practice.

Sims, from nearby North Florida Christian, has moved from weakside linebacker to the strongside to take advantage of his skills.

"It's a big change. I did a little bit last season but, other than that, I have to look at the people ahead of me and remember what Michael Boulware used to do and listen to coach Steele," Sims said and grinned.

"By doing that, I want to be the best I can be by the end of spring."

Sims is part of the Seminoles' youth movement at linebacker, where he will be joined by A.J. Nicholson at weakside and Sam McGrew in the middle. Linebackers coach Kevin Steele has indicated his linebackers will cross-train in an attempt to strengthen all three slots.

That's just fine with Sims, though his focus is on the strongside.

"The main thing is there's less thinking (compared to weakside) and just play with instincts really," Sims said. "People have ability and people have talent, but it's not whether you can do it ... it's technique, really."

It's no surprise Sims is anxious for full-fledge contact drills, though that won't happen until the team returns from spring break. There's a chance FSU's final practice on Thursday will be held in pads.

"All I can say is let's rock and roll," Sims said. "We are all excited about this upcoming year. We are ready to establish ourselves as the new FSU linebackers.

"I think we have a different variety of linebackers. I think we all fast, we are all strong. Each person has their own special ability. Overall, I think we can easily be the best linebacking corps in the nation."

Sims, of course, thrilled FSU fans when he selected the Seminoles over the Gators, lifting an FSU cap out of his book bag.

One key to FSU's recruiting class was the Seminoles' ability to finish with a flurry in their own backyard. Sims was joined by fellow local standouts Antonio Cromartie. Additioanlly, DeCody Fagg made his first appearance Tuesday after attending Hargrave Military Academy last fall.

Sims also cited FSU's hiring of Steele as one reason why he selected his childhood favorite.

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