Saturday, Aug. 3
Plenty of news highlighted the Seminoles' first day of practices.
Receiver Greg Moore suffered a torn Achilles tendon in Saturday's second practice. Change earmarked the Seminoles' first practice. Dominic Robinson switched from defensive back to wide receiver and O.J. Jackson went from the defensive line to tight end. Also, guard Milford Brown was held out of practice due to an eligibility issue and there was a jersey number change following a senior meeting with coach Bobby Bowden.
Keeping with tradition, Seminole seniors ate dinner (steak and homemade ice cream) at Bowden's home.
The biggest news surrounded Brown. According to FSU's compliance office, the question centers on an eligibility issue, one that was raised during spring drills. Apparently at issue is whether Brown was a fulltime or part-time student at Alabama State prior to attending East Mississippi Junior College in 1999.
Simply, there is concern that Brown may have exhausted his eligibiltiy, which would be a blow to a unit that returned all five starters from last season.
The move of Robinson and Jackson were surprising but each made sense.
Robinson, who returned punts for the Seminoles last season as a freshman but lacked the overall quickness to play cornerback, was thrilled to switch to a position he also starred at in high school. There also had been discussions of moving Robinson to safety this season. Jackson was on the move again, this time to tight end -- his fourth position (linebacker, defensive end and noseguard) with the 'Noles.
"Honestly, I think since I got here it has been a question you guys (media) wanted to know, it was something everybody wanted to know, guys I played with, guys on the team asked me all the time," Robinson said of the switch to wideout.
Also, FSU's recovering injured -- receivers Anquan Boldin and Robert Morgan and defensive tackles Darnell Dockett and Travis Johnson -- sat out Saturday's second session. Boldin, however, participated in selected stations and conditioning drills following practice. He also was bothered by a sore hamstring that he injured three weeks ago.
"The injured guys, we gave the afternoon off," said Randy Oravetz, the Seminoles' director of sports medicine.
"Anquan's hamstring is bothering him a little bit -- he pulled it three weeks ago. You start fatiguing -- he ran so well yesterday and so hard this morning, I had a feeling that something was going to get sore. The good news we have tomorrow (Sunday) off."
In afternoon pass skeleton drills, the defense picked off five passes. Bowden also announced the team motto of "Let's Roll." Junior-college transfer Chauncey Stovall was unable to practice and is expected to be cleared academically Monday.
Friday, Aug. 2
FSU held conditioning testing for its varsity players as planned Friday afternoon. But not after a few necessary tweaks in the schedule.
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 The session was run by Randy Oravetz, the Seminoles' director of sports medicine.
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 and a majority of the players made their times. Maddox was so late to the session following a final exam that he had to run his sprints solo after the team had already left. The good-natured Maddox -- obviously in great shape --sang as he ran by a laughing Oravetz.
"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."
That afternoon, FSU seniors approached Bowden after learning freshman linebacker A.J. Nicholson was assigned jersey No. 53 worn by Devaughn Darling. who died during an offseason workout in February 2001. Nicholson agreed to the switch, receiving a round of applause from his teammates, and the No. 53 will not be worn out of respect for Darling.
Also, Jessie Stein, who kicked off for the Seminoles last season, did not report with the varsity and his status remains in question.
Thursday, Aug. 1
While the varsity reported for dinner and the Seminoles were ranked fourth in the preseason coaches poll, FSU's newcomers completed their second day of practices, though the afternoon session was cut short by lightning and an approaching storm.
Jeff Bowden has given the incoming freshmen a thumbs up for effort. But a smiling Bowden also pointed out that the newcomers have no idea what's in store for them when the varsity reports for its first practice. While the freshmen have practiced at a leisurely pace, some – like defensive lineman Broderick Bunkley and running back Torrance Washington -- have struggled with the heat.
"This is what this is for these guys. It's all fundamentals. Just teaching basics," Bowden said. "A lot of walk and talk. You can't run them into the ground because it's just one guy going with one coach. It's the last four practices of his life that we are all smiles and everything is okay. After the varsity comes in they got to perform. It's really good. We get to know each other really well, teaching the terminology and just the basic stuff."
Added coach Bobby Bowden:
"Right now more learning. Learning with effort. But learning would come first because they have so much to learn. And there's just no hurry with these kids. That's the big thing. There's no hurry. That's the hardest thing for them, that they have a hard time understanding. They are not seniors that are fixing to graduate. They are freshmen who have four or five years a head of them to do their thing. Somebody asked me about redshirting. I told them not to even think about that right now. We are going to let that develop. We want everyone to practice like they are going to play in that first game."
Wednesday, July 31
The Seminoles' incoming freshmen class, including walk-ons, held its two first practice sessions Wednesday. There was plenty of news to report:
Receiver Chauncey Stovall left Hinds Community College in Mississippi at 2 a.m. Wednesday morning. Six hours later, Stovall arrived in Tallahassee with hopes of joining the Seminoles when the varsity reports.
Stovall, who would be a welcomed addition due to question marks at receiver, watched both practice sessions while taking care of some necessary paperwork. However, Stovall won't be cleared to join FSU until the university receives his transcripts from Hinds CC -- Stovall must earn his Associate Arts degree to be eligible.
Of course, all eyes were on the freshmen tailbacks -- Lorenzo Booker, Thomas Clayton and Leon Washington. With veterans Greg Jones and Nick Maddox returning, as well as redshirt freshman Willie Reid, it remains to be seen if any of the newcomers will be given an immediate look-see. But there's no denying the group's skills.
"We have talent there," running backs coach Billy Sexton said. "Now I just have to teach them what to do so when we scrimmage they know where to go so they can compete. That's the focus right now. Teach them the plays, the reads, and then you have all the passing game. So, they are going to be busy guys here for the next three weeks."
Zack Oller, a walk-on from North Carolina, will be given a chance to compete as a kickoff specialist for the Seminoles. Oller was the MVP of North Carolina's East-West game two weeks ago in Greensboro, N.C.
"He kicked about a 46-yard field goal to win it and he kicked out of the end zone and things like that," recruiting coordinator John Lilly said. "He also was impressive in high school."
Tuesday, July 30
As FSU's freshman class underwent university orientation Tuesday and prepared for its first practice Wednesday, veteran tailback Greg Jones kept to his daily ritual of weight training followed by conditioning.
Jones could have easily retreated to his home in South Carolina earlier this summer, but he opted to remain in Tallahassee. It was a decision Jones believes will prove beneficial when the varsity reports Thursday and opens practice Saturday. The Seminoles' season-opener isn't far behind - Aug. 24 against Iowa State in Kansas City.
"I wanted to stay here to attend summer school and work out," Jones said. "I just feel real positive about this season, and there were some things I wanted to work on to improve my game. I think I can do a lot more than I did (last year). I guess that's the reason I decided to stay here the entire summer. I need to get better."
Monday, July 29
FSU's recruiting class reported and began to prepare for the fall semester and Wednesday's first day of practice. After checking into the dorm, the class met with the equipment staff to get fitted for uniforms and helmets. They also went over physical procedures with the trainers. Dinner with parents, a meeting with Bowden, and meetings with the compliance and academic staff completed the day.
The group includes an outstanding trio of running backs in Lorenzo Booker, Thomas Clayton and Leon Washington. Booker was the top rated back in the nation according to Parade, Clayton was a SuperPrep All-American and Washington was Florida's Mr. Football.
Washington signed with FSU after an outstanding career at Andrew Jackson High School in Jacksonville. He was named the 2002 Mr. Football in Florida after playing running back, wide receiver and cornerback at Jackson. As a senior, he rushed for 2,437 yards and 28 touchdowns while recording 88 tackles and three interceptions on defense.
"I'll start out at tailback," said Washington. "But, I'll play wherever the coaches need me to play. I'm just trying to contribute. I'd love to return some punts, play special teams, anything to get on the field."
Coach Bobby Bowden on quarterback Chris Rix.
"It's inexperience that you have to learn. I think he's just a natural leader. If you're doing something he don't like, he'll tell you. Most guys won't do that, but a leader will, even though it hurts. And he'll do that, but it comes across bad for a freshman to be telling this guy he's not doing it like it's supposed to be done. … that's why I say he's probably the best leader we had, but other guys weren''t ready to accept it yet. But he gained a lot of ground on it last year, boy. He gained a lot of ground. Experience, you can't teach it. You can lecture it, but you nearly have to let it develop. He's got to live through those experiences.. He'll not make those same mistakes twice."
Senior defensive end Alonzo Jackson on the start of practice:
"I am ready to go. 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."