Impact Performer

Florida State free safety <b>Pat Watkins</b> is an exceptional mix of height, speed and instincts. Watkins played in all 13 games last season as a sophomore and made his first start against Miami in the Orange Bowl. Of course, Watkins also represents the Seminoles' pipeline from nearby Lincoln High School.

Sporting a bag of ice on the top of his head in an effort to keep cool in the stifling heat, Pat Watkins slowly made his way to Florida State's practice field for the Seminoles conditioning drills last Thursday.

The 30-minute speed session ended the team's first two weeks of conditioning. Off this week for a break between summer semesters, Watkins is pleased with his progress thus far.

"Summer is going pretty good right now -- I am starting to work out and I am getting used to it," Watkins said and smiled.

"I am not going to say I am out of shape, but my body is not used to this type of conditioning at such an early stage."

Watkins, an exceptional mix of height, speed, and great football instincts, played in all 13 games his sophomore season a year ago and made his first start of the season against Miami in the Orange Bowl.

He tied for the team lead along with cornerback Leroy Smith with three interceptions. Watkins also ranked third with eight pass break-ups and fifth with 62 tackles.

Watkins is looking to make even more of an impact this season. Lean yet muscular, Watkins is up to a career-high 208 pounds. He hopes to play around 215 this season after playing around 200 last season.

"I am trying to improve pushing my body," Watkins said. "Everyone has been out here working hard. I am happy to see some of the vets come out here and show leadership to the less-experienced guys."

Of course, Watkins also represents the pipeline from nearby Lincoln High School to FSU. Former prep teammates and alumni include Craphonso Thorpe, Antonio Cromartie and incoming freshman Rodney Gallon, who has been participating in conditioning drills.

"I just told Rodney to go at it full effort but know your body. We've been through this. You have to learn your body before you go out there and show out," Watkins said.

"I told Rodney not to quit but if you need to sit down and rest. Don't quit, just go out there and do as much as you can," Watkins said.

Watkins did as much as he could last season.

He also forced a fumble and returned another 25 yards for a score late in the 38-34 victory against Florida. Watkins received Tomahawk player of the week award for his eight tackle, three pass break-up, one interception,one knock-em-back, one fourth down stop performance in the opening game versus North Carolina. He also led the team with nine tackles (seven solo) in the Orange Bowl against the Hurricanes.

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