A Blessing

Florida State coach <b>Bobby Bowden</b> indicated this past spring that the Seminoles' tight end position is as deep and talented as it has been in years. FSU returns game-tested vetarans <b>Paul Irons, Matt Henshaw </b>and <b>Donnie Carter.</b> All three have the ability to catch and run the deeper patterns, giving FSU's offense yet another dimension. Irons (pictured), the lone senior, is excited about the season and says the Seminoles must take advantage of their opportunities.

Paul Irons speaks in clear, measured tones. He has a casual manner and easy smile. Faith and humility help direct his daily routine.

There's also no denying Irons' competitiveness, and the senior is eager to cap his collegiate career at Florida State on a positive note.

FSU returns three game-tested veterans at tight end in Irons, Matt Henshaw and Donnie Carter.

The three are making the most of the Seminoles' summer conditioning drills in preparation for the start of two-a-days next month.

Hampered a sore lower back and tight quadriceps during the offseason, Irons says he finally feels healthy.

"The summer was really a blessing," Irons said.

"I had some things that were nagging me during the summer but I kept treating them, icing them, stretching them and I was able to push through...

"My quadriceps kept getting tight and it's hard for me to stretch out. I was doing so much ab work that my back was tightening up on me in the middle of the night and I had to wake up and stretch."

One of 10 returning starters on the Seminoles' offense, Iron will be pushed by Henshaw and Carter for starting honors this season.

Irons started nine games last season, including the Orange Bowl. Third among the tight ends with 79 yards receiving, Irons had three receptions for a career-high 42 yards at Duke last September.

"I think my hands are the best they have ever been. (My) confidence is up there, too," Irons said.

While hoping for more opportunities in the passing game, Irons also is excited about the Seminoles' potential. Plenty has been made about the team's work ethic and unity this summer.

"It seems like you guys say that every summer (smiling)," Irons said.

"I definitely see the potential for greatness. The potential is there. We always have the talent, no question about that. It's about how we come together as a team and it's about the opportunities we get. It's about how we act when those opportunities come around, did we make the best of the situation."

Of course, FSU can't afford to slip out of the starting block against rival Miami.

"We all know this game is important, but it's critical," Irons said.

"It's more important than any other first game of any season because you never start with the big dogs. You usually don't start with the big dogs and that's what we are doing this year."

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