Eager to Contribute

A smiling Bryant McFadden promises not to get near any padded light poles on Florida State's practice field. Nearly 100 percent from foot and hand injuries, McFadden's return should be most welcome. "I am really excited to get back on the field," McFadden said. Also, click here for an update on defensive linemen Darnell Dockett and Travis Johnson. In addition, basketball trainer Sam Lunt has successful hip replacement surgery Monday.

A large smile spread across the face of Bryant McFadden. No, McFadden doesn't plan to throw another right jab at that padded light pole on Florida State's practice field.

Remember, it was McFadden who suffered a broken right hand five weeks ago during passing drills one afternoon. Receiver Robert Morgan made a nice catch over McFadden, and the frustrated cornerback threw a swing at an unsuspecting light pole.

Great execution. Bad move.

The pole didn't budge.

The good-natured McFadden admitted he knew something was wrong when the knuckle below his right pinkie had been pushed back. Sure enough, X-rays the following day verified the fracture and McFadden's hand was placed in a cast.

McFadden, who has continued to work out and participated in a majority of the Seminoles' strength and agility drills last week, is scheduled to have the cast removed next week. McFadden also says he is fully recovered from a broken foot, which kept him out of spring drills.

Considering he was redshirted two seasons ago from a preexisting vertebrae fracture as an incoming freshman from Hollywood McArthur High School, it's easy to see why the talented and healthy McFadden is anxious for the opening of practice in a few weeks.

"I am really excited to get back on the field," McFadden said Monday afternoon prior to conditioning drills in oven-like conditions.

"I feel great. Ready to go. I think the weather (heat) will help our bodies out that much more. We are out here every afternoon, and these (workouts) should help us for two-a-days. Everyone is working hard. Individually, I know I am much faster and much stronger than last year. I feel like I've made improvements."

The 6-foot, 176-pound McFadden ranks among the defensive back's most talented players. He's considered a strong tackler and solid defender. Named the defense's top newcomer two springs ago, McFadden finished with 22 tackles, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery in 11 games in a reserve role as a redshirt freshman last season.

While FSU's depth at cornerback was obvious in spring drills, McFadden's return is expected to be most welcomed. He's one of 10 underclassmen listed on the Seminoles' depth chart in the secondary. The unit loses only Abdual Howard and Chris Hope from last season.

"Everybody who was there last year, beside Chris and Abdual, are back," said McFadden, who is listed second team behind Rufus Brown at right corner back.

"As far as experience, everybody at least played in 11 games. There's going to be a lot of competition out there. Everybody is still trying to fight for a job. I know with me, I am trying to secure a position for myself also. I am just trying to go out there and maintain and be consistent."

McFadden also believes the Seminoles' secondary will rely on a familiar weapon this season -- bump-and-run on the edges. FSU was certainly quieted by some startling numbers at season's end -- 69th nationally in pass-efficiency defense, 65th in scoring defense and 43rd in total defense.

McFadden is well aware that there was a time at FSU when opponents were afraid to match up against FSU's talented cornerbacks, who were able to stuff a passing game on quickness, speed and attitude. All involved admit those ingredients have been missing at times in past years, including last season.

"As far as spring, even though I watched, we basically went back to the ol' style of Florida State football, the bump-and-run," McFadden said. "I will assume that's how it's going to be in the season also, as far as bump-and-run. We are going to play zone but the majority of coverages maybe for us corners, one-on-one, man-to-man. If we can do it here, that's easy money for us at the next level."

The next level aside, McFadden wants to take the next step with the Seminoles -- contributing on a consistent basis. He admits last season was a valuable learning experience for a team that struggled from the opening game.McFadden also believes he's more mature to handle any upcoming challenges -- light poles, included.

"Last year was a lot of new faces at a lot of positions," McFadden said.

"It was the first time starting for a lot of people. First time playing college football for others and myself. It was a learning experience. Now, this season we will know what to expect. I know the first couple of games for me, I was nervous. I had jitterbugs. I believe I have matured both mentally and physically. It should be a big difference for everybody."

In other injury news, defensive tackles Darnell Dockett (Achilles heel) and Travis Johnson (ankle) continue to progress from offseason surgery. They both participated in Monday's conditioning drills on a limited basis.

"Travis and Darnell are responding pretty well," assistant trainer David Walls said.

"We still have a long way to go. We still have a lot of work to do. A lot of power to develop. But their strength is improving. Their endurance and cardiovascular fitness is improving. But again we still have a ways to go to establish strength in the calf to produce explosive movements. That's what we need for football and for their position particularly. We will still work in the pool and try to get as much done as we can over the next two weeks."

Also, basketball trainer Sam Lunt underwent successful hip replacement surgery Monday. He's not expected to return back to work until late September.


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