The Cornerstone

Senior <b>Alex Barron</b> is considered the cornerstone of Florida State's offensive line, a returning All-American with savvy and skill. Better yet, Barron is nearing 100 percent following offseason shoulder surgery. Barron also likes the Seminoles' offensive line, a unit that returns all five starters and is determined to set the tone this season. FSU, of course, must land on its feet in the season-opener against Miami in the Orange Bowl.

Alex Barron has an easy manner about him. He's a favorite amongst teammates for many reasons -- engaging personality, leadership, loyalty. Of course, Barron also has the chance to depart as one of the program's most decorated players because of his skill and enormous talent.

That's all fine and dandy, but Barron, a returning All-American at offensive tackle, is more interested in team success. Florida State will be tested immediately as it opens the season at rival Miami in the first Atlantic Coast Conference game between the pair.

The timing of the showdown doesn't bother Barron one bit.

"It's fine with me," Barron said.

"To tell you the truth, it doesn't matter to me. We play them every year, so we are going to play them anyway. When we play them, to me it doesn't matter. Some people think that's a little extra (motivation), since it's a back-to-back thing. We just played them in the bowl game. It is what it is and we just have to go out and get the job done."

While Barron jokes and smiles easily, he's serious about winning.

The Seminoles have enjoyed a productive offseason. Players, like they do each summer, have talked about improved unity and work ethic. FSU's conditioning drills have been well-attended and spirited.

Barron also likes what he sees as well, but stresses this is the first of many steps. Team chemistry is molded during the season when the pressure begins to build.

"It has been going pretty good," Barron said.

"A lot of guys have been working pretty hard. A lot of guys have been doing extra things to get bettter -- to help the team get better. Overall, things are going very well right now. But we have to keep it going. Everyone is looking forward to two-a-days, to get things started. That's when it counts."

Barron, who nearly departed early for the NFL, is doing well. He says he's nearly 100 percent following offseason shoulder surgery. Barron also was treated to a weekend trip to Arizona in April after being selected to the 2004 Preseason Playboy All-America Team. Former FSU teammate Brett Williams also earned the same honor two seasons ago.

"I am doing pretty well -- everything has been fine," Barron said. "Everything I had going on, all the little nicks and injuries, everything is going well."

FSU's offensive line is considered a team strength. With good reason.

The unit welcomes back all five starting offensive linemen, including Barron and two-year starter Ray Willis, who should also contend for All-America honors.

Matt Meinrod, who just won the team's strength title, started every game as a sophomore last year at guard. Bobby Meeks, whose status remains unresolved following his arrest last weekend, and Ron Lunford shared playing time at the other guard position. David Castillo, one of the team's top warriors who has battled injuries, returns at center.

There also plenty of young depth that will be asked to step up as well.

Barron believes the unit has the potential to be one of the program's best, but that must be proven on the field.

"We have the chance to be one of the best," Barron said.

"I can't really say the best because we haven't played the season yet. From what I've seen, the best was probably when I first came here, when we had guys like Char-ron Dorsey, Tarlos Thomas, Justin Amman, Montrae (Holland), Brett (Williams), Todd (Williams), Milford Brown, (Antoine) Mirambeau -- that's two sets of lines. They were awesome.

"Most of us came in with those guys and we learned a lot from them. We just hope to bring it on like they brought it on."

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