Learning Curve

Florida State's interior defensive line was one of the real strengths of last year's team, but both <b>Darnell Dockett </b> (pictured) and <b>Jeff Womble </b> are gone. Still, the unit should be in good hands with senior <b>Travis Johnson</b> leading the charge. Still, plenty of others are expected to contribute as well, and include sophomore <b>Clifton Dickson</b> in the mix. Dickson is making good use of the team's conditioning drills.

Clifton Dickson made his way off Florida State's practice field following an intense conditioning sesson.

Dickson, a 6-foot-4, 308-pounder from Miami, was pleased with the Seminoles' work ethic and intensity this particular day.

"I am losing a couple of pounds, getting in better shape," Dickson said in a slow, deep, friendly voice.

"Just getting all the little stuff together. The physical (game), the play-making is there. It's just the little things that can help you get to the next level."

Dickson, who played in six games last season as a freshman, is anxious to take that next step. He wants to be a major contributor along the interior line for the Seminoles this season.

The interior defensive line was one of the real strengths of last year's team.

However, both Darnell Dockett and Jeff Womble are gone. Travis Johnson moves into his senior year with a great deal of playing experience as does Charles Howard, who can play any of the front four positions.

Junior Brodrick Bunkley and Dickson will try and use two-a-day practices in August to help secure playing time. Coaches will also watch the progress of redshirt freshmen Andre Fluellen and Chris Bradwell closely.

As Dickson studied the current incoming freshmen who are participating in conditioning sessions -- players like quarterback Drew Weatherford -- he couldn't help but smile.

"That first year went by real quick," Dickson said.

"It was like yesterday we were coming out here and getting into it, doing the freshmen thing. It's moving fast. It lets you know that time ain't waiting."

If asked for any advice by the newcomers, Dickson knows exactly what he's going to say.

"Pay attenion," Dickson said and smiled.

"It's about sitting back and observing. Not trying to take too much control or trying to go too fast. Just taking it slow -- you know what I am saying -- picking up stuff from the older guys. Like Jeff (Womble) telling me, 'Okay Big Dog, if you do it this way it will be better.' Just listening to people who have been there, just listening to them and learning."

Of course, Dickson wants to mix listening and learning with production. He's anxious to contribute this season and is working very hard to make sure he's in the rotation. He hopes to shed around 10 pounds by the start of two-a-day practices.

"Everyone has to fit in somewhere," said Dickson, who did not play in FSU's final five games last season after a nice start.

"I really enjoy the nose. I like to sit there and see that ball. Then I can just go. Bu it's all fun."


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