Freshmen Finish First Week

On Thursday afternoon, the 2008 class finished their first week of summer classes and summer workouts. Battling heat, humidity and rain, the freshmen finished a week of hard running and workouts behind the whistle of strength and conditioning coach Todd Stroud.

"It's real challenging," freshmen tight end Ja'Baris Little told "These workouts are just that, challenging."

Though difficult to change pace from high school to college, you can't knock the smile off Little's face as he comes off the field successfully after a hard first week.

"I think it's very important for us guys," Little said. "For us to get out here and see the actual pace, it is very important. The speed and pace is very, very different, a lot faster."

Little, a Tallahassee local and graduate of nearby Lincoln High School, decided to stay at home and attend Florida State over schools such as Alabama, Clemson & USF. Standing currently six foot three and weighing in at 235 pounds, Little will most likely be playing a big role this year in the Seminole offense which faces questions the tight end spot.

The week before, all the freshmen were by themselves taking part in an orientation of sorts by touring campus and even attending the track and field National Championship trophy ceremony. This week though, the freshmen have gotten their first taste of college football by practicing and working out with upper classmen.

Little says that having the older players integrated now with the younger guys is a big step forward.

"Just being able to throw and catch with them (upper classmen) has been really good for us younger guys," Little said. "We get to get out here with them and actually see where they're at and to place ourselves among them. We get to see where we want to be when we're older and have a few more reps under our belts."

Leadership has been welcomed by the freshmen and is prevalent as well, Little says.

"Dekoda (Watson) has been a great leader so far, definitely the most vocal," Little said. "You can always catch him telling us younger guys to pick up the pace, don't walk around and stuff like that that those more experience guys know the coaches like or don't like to see."

Another freshmen adjusting to life on campus as well as life as a freshmen football player is highly touted E.J. Manuel.

The Virginia Beach Bayside High School standout made his decision to attend Florida State last June over such schools as LSU, Penn State and Miami. During Manuel's breakout year his junior season, he threw for 1,973 yards, 15 touchdowns as well as rushing for 345 yards and five touchdowns.

Manuel says it's difficult to get used to the vigorous schedule coach Stroud has the team on and the differences from just a year ago.

"Coach Stroud gets us all out here," Manuel told, "whether it's in the weight room or on the field running or running seven on seven drills. It's been really good for all of us younger guys to get out here though, and for us to get acclimated to college ball rather than high school."

Though adjusting to college life is difficult for some, especially with a workout schedule that has very few days off, the freshmen can be seen with bright smiles while on the field.

Manuel also had good things to say about Watson's leadership skills and how it has helped the youngsters.

"You can tell he knows where we're coming from and what we're going through," Manuel said. "He has been a big help to our adjusting to being here."

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