Countdown to Camp

FSU's running backs are featured in this second installment of a summer-long series previewing the 2002 'Noles. The unit figures to be one of the deepest on the team, even with Greg Tony's recent decision to enter the Marine Corps. Of course, Greg Jones and Nick Maddox are back, and FSU welcomes four highly touted runners into the fold this season. It's also no secret FSU plans to work more out of the one-back set thanks to depth and skill. Coach Billy Sexton talks about plans for his group.

POST-SPRING STARTERS: TB Greg Jones (Jr.)/Nick Maddox (Sr.). FB Greg Tony (Sr. walk-on).

RESERVES: TB Willie Reid (Fr.), TB Lemar Parrish (Sr.), FB B.J. Dean (Fr.), FB P.J. Selvidio (Jr. walk-on), FB James Buchanan (Fr.).

COMING ATTRACTIONS: TB Lorenzo Booker (Ventura, Calif.), TB Thomas Clayton (Alexandria, Va.), TB Leon Washington (Jacksonville), FB Torrance Washington (Madison).

THE SKINNY:The backfield figures to be one of the deepest units on the team, even with Greg Tony's recent decision to leave football and enter officer candidate school in the Marine Corps in October.

Tony, a senior walk-on, had earned the starter's role at fullback with a solid spring following his recovery from back surgery. But Tony remained concerned about his back -- another injury may have disqualified him from candidate school (Tony could have enrolled next May). Tony also is engaged to be married.

"I told coach Bowden that I've lost them to Florida and Miami, but I never lost 'em to the Marines before," FSU running backs coach Billy Sexton said.and laughed. "It's a career-decision for him. But he won the job. A tough nut. He could run, catch, block. I mean at 218, he could do everything we asked him to do. Just really a physical guy. Explosive."

Former linebackers P. J. Selvidio and B.J. Dean also worked at the fullback position during the spring. Selvidio, however, missed the last two weeks of spring with a punctured lung. James Buchanan has been slowed by injuries and missed spring drills following shoulder surgery. Torrance Washington, an incoming freshman from Madison County, is the only freshman Sexton presently plans on using at fullback.

However, he just might be the answer. Washington played fullback in the Wing-T offense at Madison County High, where he was the featured runner. He is also considered an excellent receiver.

"The guy who is probably ahead of all of them is Selvidio," Sexton said.

"He's very tough and about 250 (pounds). He physically can do the blocking part of it, and he's very smart. ... The freshman (Washington) is really an intriguing prospect. He is a talent. He is a physical specimen ... and in high school he was an outstanding runner. We have three weeks to get him ready but he's going to get a crash course. He's one of the better fullback prospects we've brought in a long time. Before it's over, I am going to be shocked if he's not an outstanding fullback."

Sexton doesn't have any question marks at tailback.

Junior Greg Jones and senior Nick Maddox are expected to provide the 1-2 punch at tailback. Jones led the Seminoles in rushing last season with 713 yards on 134 carries (5.3 average) and six touchdowns. The versatile Maddox contributed 438 rushing yards, second behind Jones, and had 26 receptions for 262 yards.

Wille Reid enjoyed a solid spring, proving he has healed from a broken leg suffered last season. Senior Lemar Parrish, who has been slowed by injuries, also expected to contribute in a pinch. But it's three highly touted prospects who will attract the early attention -- Lorenzo Booker, Thomas Clayton and Leon Washington.

Barring injury to FSU's frontliners, however, at least one or probably two of the newcomers will be hard-pressed to get on the field this year.

"All those guys -- you have three distinctive different styles there," Sexton said.

"Booker, who is a shake-and-bake, make-you-miss, outrun you. A great receiver. Leon, kind of the same thing but in a Barry Sanders mold. And then you have Clayton, who to me kind of reminds me of Travis (Minor). Fast. Muscled up. Doesn't have the wiggle that a Leon or Booker has but has that ability to hit a crease and really accelerate and has some mass about him -- 200 pounds. That's a good bunch of tailbacks right there."

UNO BACK: It's no secret FSU plans to work out of a one-back formation this season. Sexton also has the luxury of playing Maddox and Reid in the slot at times. Even so, Sexton still looks for his fullbacks to play an important role in the Seminoles' success.

"We will do one back several different ways," Sexton said.

"Coach Bowden is always going to have the I-formation. We are going to run the sprint draw and sweep. In goal-line and short-yardage situations, you got to have a guy in there who can be a blocker. There's ways you can get two backs in the backfield. You can do that. But at some point you don't want two runners back there. You have to have a runner and blocker and that blocker has to be an ol' fashion fullback and that part is not going to go away. That's what those guys are going to have to provide."

YOUNG GUNS: There's no denying the impressive credentials of the four incoming freshmen -- Booker, Clayton, Leon Washington and Torrance Washington. But the quartet won't be expected to walk on water.

"I am really anxious to work with them," Sexton said. "The thing you ca never figure out is when they come in, when they are a true freshman, how are they going to react? Oh, we are at Florida State. They have to focus on what they have to do, learn their plays and perform."

THANKFUL: Sexton also will have the opportunity to watch his son's career develop as a Seminole -- Wyatt Sexton is an incoming freshman quarterback from Leon High School. He is expected to be redshirted.

"I am just proud of him," Sexton said.

"You know you really can't meddle. You got to let him experience and do it. It's going to be fun to be around and watch him. I got to watch him play 3-4 games in high school and got to watch the all-star game on tape, which was fun. When you have a child you don't know if they are going to be interested in the game. He has enjoyed it since he was little, and played it. Football is not meant for everybody. He enjoys working out in the summer and doing all the things you need to do to compete. I was just pleased he was good enough to play and good enough to get a scholarship."


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