Smoke Signals

TheTerritory would like to introduce a new weekly feature that will be posted each Thursday. We have the latest news and chatter from FSU's athletic department, from injuries to recruiting. Click here to find out the latest concerning Travis Johnson, Broderick Bunkley, Marc LaMacchia and much more. "I've heard rumors," Johnson said of possible position changes. "All I know is we need to be healthy. You can't be who you are unless you are healthy."

Travis Johnson just wants to be healthy.

Johnson, who has been plagued by ankle problems the past two seasons, is now recovering from right shoulder (rotator cuff) surgery. Johnson, who played in all 14 games last season for the Seminoles and ranked ninth with 45 tackles, is not expected to participate in spring drills (contact).

At the moment, Johnson is working on his range-of-motion since surgery Jan. 22. At the six-week mark, Johnson will begin light strength exercises. In terms of conditioning, about all Johnson can do at the moment is ride a stationary bicycle and walk stadium steps.

"I am going to be healthy," Johnson told TheTerritory Wednesday afternoon.

"Good things are going to come, and it's going to be better than last season. My shoulder was still messed up during the last six games, but I feel like those were by best games – the last couple. I feel I can do much better if I can keep working."

Johnson, who had 8.5 tackles for loss and eight quarterback hurries during the regular-season, is part of a defensive line that returns seven of its top 12 players from last season – sophomore Donnie Carter will get an opportunity at tight end during spring practice. Graduated seniors include Alonzo Jackson, Eric Powell, Tony Benford and Mike Shaw.

Johnson, meanwhile, started seven regular-season games while splitting time with Jeff Womble, who is also out this spring following surgery (Achilles tendon). Johnson had a game-high five tackles against Iowa State, Maryland, Notre Dame, North Carolina and Florida. He also recorded a career-high two sacks against the Gators.

While Johnson is not participating in offseason workouts, formally known as mat drills, he has been in attendance. Johnson believes the team's mood and approach have improved.

"Everyone is excited about next year," Johnson said.

"Really excited about getting back on the field as far what we are capable of. We showed glimpses of what we are capable of last year but now – we were a young team – now we are mature. We've gotten a little better, a little faster, a little tougher. I think we are going to get a lot of things accomplished.

"(It has been) very frustrating. We have tasted victory. We tasted national championship type stuff. We've been through death. We've been through so much. It hurts our heart to be around and see the program (now). Some of us were during the high times, we were here during the downfall, now we want to start it over and get back on the good times."

GOOD IMPRESSIONS

Johnson's eyes light up and his smile widens when talking about the Seminoles' younger players along the defensive line. He says he has been impressed by Broderick Bunkley and Kamerion Wimbley.

While Bunkley is also recovering from surgery (knee), Wimbley, one of eight true freshman to play last season, has drawn rave reviews from the Seminoles' coaching staff for his effort during conditioning drills.

"Broderick is a freak of nature," Johnson said and laughed. "He came in better than all of us. As far as what he's capable of doing, he's better than all of us. That's a great thing. Wimbley, now, we call him a D-line safety. He's borderline. But he's doing real well and has impressed a lot of guys. Coaches have told us we are the heart of the defense. We have the ability to take over the game by ourself. W have a lot of work to do but we will be alright."

POSITION CHANGES

While Carter will be moved to tight end due to a lack of bulk, another change is being discussed, according to Johnson – moving Darnell Dockett back to defensive end to take advantage of his quickness. Dockett, if you remember, was recruited at defensive end but was switched to tackle.

FSU's depth along the line should also be helped by its impressive group of incoming freshmen -- Chris Bradwell, Chris Anderson, Clifton Dickson and Andre Fluellen.

"I've heard rumors," Johnson said. "Some people are saying Darnell might move back to end. If Jeff (Womble) doesn't come back, then Dockett will stay at tackle. I might be moved from the three technique to one (at tackle). But who knows. All I know is we need to be healthy. You can't be who you are unless you are healthy."

INJURED LIST

Here's a list of players not participating in drills.

Tailback Greg Jones (knee),quarterback Fabian Walker (shoulder/limited running stations), offensive lineman Alex Barron (knee), linebacker Kendyll Pope (shoulder), noseguard Travis Johnson (shoulder), cornerback Stanford Samuels (shoulder), offensive lineman Ray Willis (shoulder), defensive lineman Broderick Bunkley (knee), rover Jerome Carter (shoulder), offensive lineman Bobby Meeks (shoulder), rover Claudius Osei (Achilles tendon), wide receiver Chris Davis (knee, modified mats, defensive lineman Jeff Womble (Achilles tendon surgery) and defensive lineman Darnell Dockett (ineligible to practice with team due to recent arrest).

GOOD FIT

Fluellen, who selected the Seminoles over Vanderbilt, said FSU was the obvious choice for him. He plans on arriving at FSU early and participate in the Seminoles' summer workout plan.

"If I went to another school other that FSU I would be saying to myself what if?," Fluellen told TheTerritory. "The relationship I built with some of the coaches (Haggins and Allen) was a big-factor in my choosing FSU. Coach Odell is life orientated not just football. He will be there if I have a problem."

BASEBALL

Don't expect to see right-handed pitcher Marc LaMacchia until the Florida series March 7-9. LaMacchia has experienced tenderness in his right throwing elbow since the Stanford series. LaMacchia threw briefly a few days ago but stopped after experiencing some soreness/tightness.

Junior-college transfer Blake Balkcom continues to be hampered by a deep quad injury and knee soreness. Balkcom was scheduled to begin pool workouts this week.

For our recruiting news from David Peters, check out our premium message board.


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