Up Close with Nick Maddox

Like many of his Seminole teammates, tailback Nick Maddox wants to erase the memory of last year. While FSU has been given high marks from preseason analysts, Maddox opts to take a patient, cautious approach. He says the Seminoles should be better this season, but results -- not chatter -- determine a team's status. "You can't expect for anything else but to produce this year. I hope that's the mentality the whole team comes in -- to produce the best we can," Maddox said.

Mother Nature was relentless once again Thursday afternoon. The heat indecs had reached a modest 115 degrees, according to one television station. Another reported the temperature had cracked the 100-degree barrier for the second consecutive day. Nick Maddox simply peered up at the flaming ball in the sky and smiled.

"It's nice to be out here running in this hot sun and not being in Carolina just relaxing," Maddox said and laughed.

"In heat like this, I think it's very tough to get guys to come out (for conditioning drills). You look on the news and you see how the weatherman is telling you to stay in if you can, and here we are running in full tilt in the heat of the day. You can see it. You can see these guys working hard. Nobody minds sweating. Everybody doesn't mind working."

Maddox and the Seminoles continue to work out daily in preparation for the start of practice in less than two weeks. Thursday afternoon wasn't much different from past days, though the hot and humid weather was making conditioning drills extremely difficult for players. Still, FSU presses forward.

Maddox, the Seminoles' second-leading rusher last season with 438 yards on 98 carries, is eager to get started. The senior has been in Tallahassee since mid-May, following a short two-week vacation to his hometown of Kannapolis, N.C.

Like many of his teammates, Maddox wants to erase the memory of last year's 8-4 season, one that saw FSU tumble from the nation's elite. While the Seminoles have been given high marks from preseason analysts, Maddox opts to take a patient, cautious approach. He says the Seminoles should be better this season, but results -- not chatter -- determine a team's status

"Everybody is older, wiser and everybody is willing to work a little harder than they did last year," Maddox said. "I don't think anybody out here thinks the season we had last year was one we were pleased or happy with. So, as we come along, we hope to have a lot better season with a great record. And that takes work."

Spoken like a veteran, wouldn't you say?

In fact, as Maddox looks at FSU's incoming freshmen, especially fellow tailbacks Lorenzo Booker, Leon Washington and Thomas Clayton, a grin spreads across Maddox's face. It was that long ago when Maddox was the heralded, new kid in camp, complete with honors, credentials and unlimited potential.

"It wasn't that long ago," Maddox said. "I can remember like yesterday just sitting here, my head was as bald as it could be. The upperclassmen had cut my hair -- those were times you don't forget. That freshman year. Those learning years. You never forget those years."

Of course, Maddox admits that last year is a good year to forget. But with seven returning starters on offense, including the entire line, the Seminoles are expected to make some noise this season. The shifty Maddox is expected to once again split time with fellow tailback Greg Jones, the Seminoles' leading rusher with 713 yards on 134 carries. The powerful Jones rushed for more than 100 yards in four of FSU's last eight regular-season games, including a game-high 120 yards on 23 carries against Virginia.

"Think about it," Maddox said.

"You have two returning starters coming back from injury in Anquan (Boldin) and Robert (Morgan). Then you have Cro, (Craphonso Thorpe), P.K. (P.K. Sam) and Talman (Gardner). There are playmakers all over the field. You have your top two backs coming back. You have two of your top quarterbacks coming back. And your whole offensive line. You can't expect for anything else but to produce this year. I hope that's the mentality the whole team comes in -- to produce the best we can."

Maddox also plans to keep an eye on FSU's young running backs -- Booker, Clayton, Leon Washington and Torrance Washington, a punishing fullback from Madison County. Booker, Clayton and Leon Washington have been impressive in strength and conditioning drills.

Even in the intense heat of Thursday.

"They all look very competitive, Maddox said.

"They all have different styles, different personalities. It's going to be interesting to see how it all works out in the backfield this year. They are all young. Even Willie (Reid) coming back, he hasn't had any solid on the field work. Everybody is young besides me and Greg. It's going to be nice to see how it works out and how everybody comes out here and performs in two-a-days.

"One thing you can tell from all of them is they are all hard workers. You can tell by the different body styles that that they all have different methods of running. Different mentalities. By looking at Thomas Clayton's body, I would think he is more like a power back. Not much juke to him. But he can make it happen. Looking at Lorenzo Booker's body, you would think he was a quick back. Get around the end. Catching passes, much like myself. Even Leon. He's a little stubby guy but you can figure he can get through a hole. They all have good bodies for what they can do. It's going to be fun."


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