Bunkley Back In Form

Florida State's defensive line came into the 2005 season with a lot of questions marks regarding youth and a lack of experience depth. But four games along, the line has been one of the Seminoles strongest units and NG Brodrick Bunkley is one of the main reasons why.

Florida State NG Brodrick Bunkley was being patient this summer. His mind was on school, not the football field.

Back with the team now, Bunkley has regained his form and led a group that came into this season with questions to answer and points to prove.

"It was so much hard work over the summer for me," Bunkley said. "Being able to be out here is like a dream come true, playing the way we are playing."

Bunkley was constantly disrupting Syracuse's backfield Saturday. He recorded a sack and a half, five tackles and three tackles for loss, which he shared as a game-high with DE Kamerion Wimbley.

"It's not a surprise at all," Wimbley said of Bunkley's performance. "He's one of the best in the country on the interior line if not the best."

The Orange gained just 45 yards on the ground, the third time this season that the Seminoles have yielded under a 100 yards to an opponent's running backs.

Damian Rhodes, the Big East's leading rusher, was limited to a season-low 44 yards.

"Everybody is playing Florida State football right now," Bunkley said. "It's lovely because you get pressure from the outside and that gives you a chance to do a little something yourself."

Bunkley is one of the main forces behind a surprisingly strong defensive front. Three of the top players from 2004 were lost to the NFL draft, leaving Bunkley as the only returning starter and the only player on the interior line with any career starts.

Bunkley has charged into the top 10 of the Atlantic Coast Conference in tackles behind the line, totaling eight after Saturday's game.

The defensive line has been responsible for 10 1/2 of the Seminoles' 19 sacks. They've held their ground in goal line situations, and have proven to be one of the nation's top overall squads, strong against the run and solid at keeping opposing teams off the scoreboard.

But the success they're enjoying wasn't assured a few months ago.

The uncertainties that surrounded Florida State's defensive front grew over the summer when the news came that Clifton Dickson would miss the 2005 season because of eligibility issues.

At the same time, Bunkley was fighting with academic battles of his own.

Walking on the brink of becoming ineligible, Bunkley hit the books and focused all of his energy on academic pursuits.

"I stayed in study hall from about 7 in the morning till 10 at night," Bunkley said. "I was up there countless hours. They paid off."

Eventually, Bunkley did what was necessary in school and rejoined his teammates shortly after the start of fall camp. Conditioning was the biggest area where Bunkley had to make up ground.

"First couple of days I was feeling kind of tired," Bunkley said. "It didn't take me too long to get acclimated."

But Bunkley never worried in his time away from field. He always had a good feeling that once he came back, the rest would be easy. And, so far, it has been.

"I figured football would come around," said Bunkley.

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