Raring to Go

Summer is coming to a close for the Florida State Seminoles. They end their voluntary conditioning drills today, capping a productive period of conditioning in preparation for the start of two-a-days on Monday. Summer classes also end on Friday, and many players are wrapping up final exams this week. Center <b>David Castillo</b> has made the most of his time and he expects to be cleared medically after a last visit to his foot surgeon later this week. FSU's O-line wants to set the practice tone.

Veteran center David Castillo has been impressed by the positive vibes he has sensed this summer during Florida State's strength and conditioning drills.

"This year it seems like we have a lot of special players out here," Castillo said. "Talent-wise, chemistry and everything. It just seems like it's going to be a great year."

The Seminoles end their voluntary workouts today. The sessions have been spirited and well-attended in preparation for the start of two-a-days on Monday. Players can enjoy a four-day break before reporting back to Tallahassee on Sunday.

Castillo, the Seminoles' personable leader and time-tested warrior, also is doing fine. He expects to be cleared for drills after a final checkup with his foot surgeon later this week. A solid student, Castillo also had one final exam today as the summer session ends Friday.

Castillo started 12 of the 13 games at center while battling numerous injuries last year, including a severely sprained right foot. He missed his only start at Virginia, but still played the majority of the game.

"I am doing alright. I am anxious to get started and getting cleared," Castillo said.

"I go Aug. 5 (Thursday) to see my foot surgeon and he will give me the final okay. I've gotten my physical already and they said everything is fine pending on my ortho recheck and once that happens, they are going to clear me and I am good to go."

Last season Castillo was fitted with carbon metal shank that he wore underneath his right insole. His foot also was taped and placed in a cast for games. Castillo has had a special insole made this season, one that should give him more comfort and flexibility.

"I will have a little bit more range of motion and flexibility in my foot and that should help me quite a bit actually," Castillo said.

One of the team's most articulate and vocal players, Castillo isn't bashful about speaking his mind. And, without hesitation, he believes this year's team has displayed improved unity. He also credits the coaching staff for helping improve the team's psyche.

"We have young guys leading. We have seniors leading," Castillo said. "We have seniors helping younger guys. Younger guys helping younger guys. Guys out there fighting for each other and out there working hard, wanting to win a national championship.

"I don't think there's anybody here from the '99 team, the last national championship we had. Especially our fifth-year guys, we didn't come here not to win a national championship. We are hungry and we are going into the season with high expectations. Anything less than a national championship is going to be a let down."

"I think the coaches have a lot do with that. They've had cookouts for us. Guys are hanging out more and becoming really good friends. That's what we need on our team."

Still, Castillo admits the team will be measured by how it handles adversity.

"Right now, any kind of adversity is going to determine how good a friend you are, how good a teammate you are, how good a team you are. It's easy to say on paper we have all the talent in the world, we have great chemistry and all that," Castillo said.

"But a loss to Miami, or going down in the fourth quarter in a game and we are behind. The defense lets up a big score and the offense turns it over, that will determine how well we stick together. I think this team has a really good chance to stick together -- I am not just saying that. In years past, I am like, 'Oh yeah, this year we are going to do that.'

"But, like I said, I really believes we have a lot of special players out there this year."

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