Athlete Update

It was late last season when senior free safety Chris Hope started to talk about Florida State's potential in 2002. Hope remains a believer. "They have the talent on both sides of the football. Hopefully, they can do it and keep getting better each game. They just have to be consistent," said Hope, a rookie with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Hope couldn't stay in Tally long, as the Steelers eye their opener next Monday night against defending Super Bowl champion New England.

It was late last season when senior free safety Chris Hope started to talk about Florida State's potential in 2002. Hope remains a believer.

"They have the talent on both sides of the football," Hope said. "Hopefully, they can do it and keep getting better each game. They just have to be consistent."

Hope, a three-year starter for the Seminoles, returned to Tallahassee last weekend. When the Seminoles checked in with trainers Sunday following their 40-19 victory over the Virginia Cavaliers 24 hours earlier, Hope was among the group.

Of course, Hope couldn't visit for long.

Hope, a third-round selection of the Pittsburgh Steelers, had to return to work. The Steelers open their season against the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots next Monday night. Hope is one of eight defensive backs on the roster as Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher finalized his roster Sunday.

"I like it a lot," Hope said.

"They moved me to strong safety (from free safety), so that was my position coming out of my high school. It gives me an opportunity to use more of my skills, instead of playing in the center of the field like I did here. I get to blitz. Sitting down in the box. (I am) getting to use a lot more of my talents playing the box."

Hope, who makes the minimum rookie salary of $225,000 annually, is listed second on the depth chart behind veteran Lee Flowers, who is in the last year of his contract. The Steelers have not approached Flowers about an extension after this year. Although run support is his best attribute, it's possible that the team may want an upgrade over his pass coverage ability.

Hope, meanwhile, finished his FSU career with 234 tackles, 149 being solo and seven stops behind the line of scrimmage. He deflected 18 passes, intercepted nine others and caused three fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He was one of only two Seminoles drafted last season, joining receiver Javon Walker, who was selected 20th overall by the Green Bay Packers.

The difference between the collegiate and professional ranks, Hope said, is obvious.

"Going to practice and having the rest of the day to yourself," said a smiling Hope, who was an academic All-American for the ‘Noles. "Not worrying about school work or exams, things like that. It's business. It's just isn't football anymore.

"You can be the best player but not knowing what to do, you can get cut. There's no more security. Being here, you might not start, you might not get a chance to play, but you are still getting that (scholarship) check every week. Other than that, everybody knowing what to do. Offensive linemen, taking all the right steps. You can't take that gamble anymore. In college, you might have a freshman or a sophomore playing who might not know what to do, so you can afford to stick your head inside and still contain, but stuff like that you can't do that anymore (on NFL level)."

Hope joins a defensive unit that returns 10 of 11 starters and was ranked No. 1 in the NFL last season. Hope said he was confident about making the team, one that he calls an ideal situation.

"The talent level, playing at Florida State, you have to be pretty talented to be here," Hope said.

"So I never questioned my ability to play. So being in the right situation and learning the plays, you can get drafted and go into a situation and not have an opportunity to play. If you haven't made a move by the second or third year, they are not going to keep paying you for sitting the bench. Being in the right situation, the guy in front of me is in his last year of his contract. (I am) playing on a team that lets me blitz, come down and be aggressive, which I didn't get to do here (at free safety)."

Hope also has had a chance to visit with a number of former Seminoles during the preseason -- Henri Crockett (Vikings), Laveranues Coles (Jets) and teammate Abdual Howard (Lions). Of course, Hope also plans to keep a close eye on the Seminoles, who look to regain their status among the nation's elite, as Hope predicted.


Nole Digest Top Stories