For starters, the Seminoles moved the sprints from their soggy practice fields to the track at nearby Godby High School. Most of the team made the two-mile drive in a pair of charter buses, while others such as Chris Rix and Nick Maddox arrived fashionably late in their own cars after taking final exams.
But that wasn't the best part.
Around noon on Friday, the FSU coaching staff was informed of an NCAA rules interpretation that prevented it from attending the conditioning session. Simply, the Seminoles did not want the 90-minute test to count as an official practice under NCAA guidelines
Instead, the sprints were monitored by Randy Oravetz, the program's director of sports medicine, and Seminole trainers and managers. Not even strength coach Jon Jost was permitted to attend.
Still, the session ran smoothly under a blazing sun and 96-degree temperatures -- unlike a year ago when the test was canceled due to rain. Players had to complete 16 110-yard sprints in 15-19 seconds depending on their position. The sprints were run simultaneously on opposite ends of the track.
"This team looks like it's in pretty good shape," Oravetz said. "Not too many guys were out. Some of the linemen, like (Darnell) Dockett ended up coming out, a few guys like Bobby Meeks didn't make all of his times, but some of the linemen you might expect. Overall, it showed that these guys were in pretty good shape."
The injured such as Dockett (Achilles tendon), Travis Johnson (ankle), Anquan Boldin (knee) and Robert Morgan participated after being cleared by team physicians earlier Friday. Boldin and Morgan each made their required times in impressive fashion.
"This shows the work this team has done over the summer," Boldin said. "We ran a lot of 110's this summer to get ready. Everybody's dedicated to having a better season. I'm savoring every moment after being injured last year. You can't take anything for granted."
Added Oravetz: "A lot of those injured guys, I was really impressed to see them working. I knew they wouldn't make their times but at least they gave us the effort. They tried to get down there and back. What I was impressed I think the most was the top 44 guys. They looked pretty good, that top 44."
Players who did not pass their physicals included fullback James Buchanan (shoulder) and offensive lineman Blake Williams (knee and back). Oravetz said Buchanan will probably be "medically disqualified" from the team, while Williams will continue his rehabilitation and be reevaluated within 30 days.
Also, receiver Chauncey Stovall isn't expected to be cleared to begin practicing until Monday. Additionally, receiver Greg Moore, who flunked out of school last year but plans to walk-on, and running back Ryan Reynolds had not filled out the necessary paperwork and were not permitted to run. Jessie Stein, who handled kickoffs last season, did not report and his status remains in question.
As expected, the running session was spirited and lively. Linebacker Jerel Hudson, though he did not make all of his required times, shouted encouragement to his teammates. Maddox was so late to the session that he ran his sprints solo after borrowing a pair of shoes from a teammate. No matter. Near the end of his sprints, Maddox was even singing as he ran by Oravetz, who tried to shout out the seconds off his stopwatch while he laughed.
It's easy to see why senior defensive end Alonzo Jackson believes all is good as FSU opens two-a-day practices Saturday.
"I am ready to go," Jackson said. I am telling you. I was hyped for every one (sprint) we ran. Finally, we are out here as a team. This is like the start of two-a-days. I am ready to get it started man, for real. I am not worried about that (FSU's No. 4 ranking in the coaches poll). I am just ready to go out there and take it to some people, you know. I am ready to take it to a team - with everything we got."
Team physician Kris Stowers said all but two players received medical clearance to participate in practice. Not all will participate in both practices when two-a-days begin. Team trainers and physicians will take a day-to-day approach regarding the level of participation for defensive linemen Darnell Dockett (Achilles tendon) and Travis Johnson (ankle) and wide receiver Robert Morgan, who tore two knee ligaments and sustained nerve damage last preseason. Among those cleared for full participation included receiver Anquan Boldin (knee) and defensive end Eric Powell, who sustained liver and diaphragm damage as victim of an attempted robbery.
"The offseason went pretty well," Stowers said. "We were pleased with the effort players needing rehab made. Everyone but two are cleared (to some degree). We don't see anything that should keep (Powell) back. Darnell is going to go but he's going to have some pain. Travis Johnson is about the same kind of situation as Darnell. It's going to be day-to-day. He'll be practicing but won't be full speed every practice. Robert just had more of an injury than Anquan."