Football Fever

Today marks the end of a short summer vacation for the FSU coaching staff, and plenty of items were discussed in a morning meeting. For starters, players in attendance this summer will take part in a variety of exercises this week designed to test to their performance and strength. Also, the Seminoles' annual summer camp begins Wednesday and let's not forget that FSU opens its regular season against Iowa State in seven weeks. Check out comments from John Lilly and Mickey Andrews.

The July Fourth weekend was a welcomed reprieve for most. However, it represented the end of a short summer vacation for Florida State's coaching staff.

Seminole coaches return to the office today, and there won't be any time to ease back into the saddle, so to speak.

Items scheduled to be discussed in a 10 a.m. meeting included the annual summer camp that begins Wednesday. Between 800 and 1,000 players are scheduled to attend. The camp is broken down into two sessions -- Wednesday through Saturday and Sunday through next Wednesday.

The staff also will participate in the ACC Kickoff for the media beginning July 20, and then hold the annual coaches' hideaway on July 24. FSU opens its season against Iowa State Aug. 24 in the Eddie Robinson Classic in Kansas City.

Naturally, the Seminoles' annual camp serves as an ideal recruiting tool. Current Seminoles who attended the camp while in high school include Chris Rix, Nick Maddox, Michael Boulware, Xavier Beita and Eric Broe. Incoming freshmen who attended include Darrell Burston and Buster Davis.

One of the camp's better stories involved junior Brian Sawyer, who caught the attention of Seminole coaches with his snapping ability. Sawyer, from Cordele, Ga., initially walked on at FSU but was awarded a scholarship his second season and has been the team's long snapper.

"Obviously one of the big advantages of it is if you can get a prospect that you are interested in on your campus, from our standpoint we get a chance not only coach them and see how they take coaching, also you get to be around them as people," FSU recruiting coordinator John Lilly said Monday morning.

"From their standpoint, they get a chance to be at Florida State a little bit. To be honest with you, we coach them very similar to the way we coach our own guys and they are going to get a real good feel if whether or not they want to hang around us for four years or not. We always have our eyes on who is coming in. This year, you have a lot of guys who tell you they are coming but then they wind up not pre-registering so you don't know until they walk in the door for sure."

Of course, the coaching staff is hoping the Seminoles burst through the door this season.

While it has been nearly two years since varsity players were tested in the 40-yard dash, that will change. Players in attendance this summer will take part in a variety of exercises this week designed to test to their performance and strength. Testing begins today under coach Jon Jost, and exercises include the 10 and 40-yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump and pro agility (shuttle) run. All the times will be recorded electronically (10 and 40) and will take place on the practice fields, not the track.

On the defensive side of the football, coordinator Mickey Andrews is excited about his young safeties -- Kyler Hall and rovers Claudius Osei and Jerome Carter. Andrews likes the unit's aggressiveness, saying those kind of players are easier to coach.

"They really are (his kind of player)," Andrews said.

"It's easier for me to coach people that when that ball is snapped, they want to take that ball away from other folks. They are going to hit 'em. Everytime they come out they are going to try to knock their britches off. These kids genuinely like to play aggressive style of football. That's kind of what we build the defense on. I still see ol' Shade Tree (Marvin Jones) hitting that running back (Larry Jones) from Miami (1992). And everytime you see it you can't help but just grin. That's got to be one of the all time licks that you ever see in college. And that wasn't the only one that he faced.

"And I am not saying these safeties are Shade Tree players right now but they make you grin a little bit after the play is over because when that offensive guy gets up and he's trying to rub that off of him, you can't rub a bruise off (laughing). They are just tough, hard-nosed kids. Still have to learn a little bit on how to play pass defense. But they are so anxious, they work so hard and they just enjoy playing football. And enjoy practicing."

Andrews is also hoping to get more production from the Seminoles' special teams, namely punt return and punt block. Dominic Robinson settled into the team's most consistent punt returner, averaging 10.1 yards on 16 returns, including a season-best 31-yarder. FSU also blocked two punts -- Kyler Hall and Jerome Carter, who returned his 12-yard for a score against Duke in the season opener.

"We didn't get as much out of either one of those areas as we need to," Andrews said. "The guy (Robinson) that we had back there on punt return was probably not our best punt returner but was our best punt catcher. That's where you have to start with catchers. I think we will have competition all over the field better, much stronger competition that we had last year."

While the glare will be on incoming running backs Lorenzo Booker, Thomas Clayton and Leon Washington, the newcomers with the best chance to contribute early may be linebackers Buster Davis, A.J. Nicholson and Sam McGrew (Wakulla) and defensive back Pat Watkins (Lincoln).

However, Andrews stressed the key will be patience.

"The thing, like with all of them, the freshmen, you got to go ahead and teach the entire (defensive) package," Andrews said. "They will come in here and we will work a couple days with them. Their heads won't swim too bad. They will pick it up because we will just get the basic coverage and front. But when the old guys get in, the varsity, we will have the entire package in three days and their heads will be swimming like crazy. You have your base, your goal-line, your short-yardage, your nickel, your dime, all of our kicking stuff because freshmen are going to be on offense and defense kicking team, so that really piles up on them.

"I know when (Derrick) Brooks came in here, we had him as a DB but we worked him in nickel as a linebacker, which was really good. He never lost the linebacker mentality in all that work. We may take a freshman -- he's primarily a nickel linebacker -- or will take a DB -- and he's primarily a long-yardage player -- try to get good at something other than trying to get them good at the whole thing. Just let them grow gradually with it. You just have to make yourself be patient with those guys. Those freshmen coming in, they have some tools."

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