"It Could Get Real Shaky"

It is go time for five-star defensive lineman Dante Fowler. The 6-3, 245 pound quarterback killer from St Petersburg Lakewood is back practicing with his team after recovering from a shoulder surgery and eager for a big senior season. The Florida State commitment has not been afraid to stir it up about his commitment and admittedly likes the process with all the phone calls. That should continue.

For now, Dante Fowler is just ready to get things going for Lakewood. The injury is feeling better and now he feels like he is ready to do some damage for a team he feels is ready to compete at the highest level. They have their preseason game against Countryside a week from Friday.

"Last Friday was my first day in pads," he said by phone Tuesday. "I had to get some special pads since I had the shoulder injury. I'm not 100% to go, but when I put on the pads I can't feel anything… I am not missing any games this year.

Lakewood is young this 2011 season, but Fowler is expecting big things from an athletic group. He also is going to move inside a bit on the line to free him up to make more plays.

"My team is young," he said. "I think we only have five or six seniors. For us to be this young, we are real good. We have a lot of talented athletically skilled players. We have a real good defensive line that will keep me away from double teams and triple teams. I am going to be playing a lot of three-technique so I will get more one on one's. We are looking good and I like my team a lot."

Outside of this football season, Fowler is ready to be done with high school. He has himself prepared academically and only has one core class to take before graduation in May. He plans to make the most of it however, and seems to have saved the best class for last.

"The only core class I have to take is Spanish II," he said. "But it's kind of funny… I have a lot of Spanish girls that are always helping me, so I kind of like the Spanish. (laughing) It isn't all that hard."

"School starts next Monday. It's my senior year so I am ready to go off to college. I will probably just take off for college a week after I graduate (in May)."

Fowler has been committed to Florida State since December. He maintains that he is 100% committed to the Seminoles and yet he opens himself up for scrutiny by taking trips to other places. In the end, Fowler likes the process and doesn't shy away from the attention he is getting.

"I get calls here and there, it isn't that bad and I kind of like it," he said with a grin I could see through the phone.

His plan this fall is to visit Tallahassee twice for football games. There are two big games he will be at. Oklahoma and Miami will hit Doak Campbell Stadium and Fowler is ready to see the Noles play.

Fowler feels FSU has a lot going for it. At or near the top of his list is FSU's head coach Jimbo Fisher.

"Coach Fisher is funny," he said. "He kind of reminds me of me and is like a kid sometimes. He is a real good coach and had a good first year. A lot of people doubted him, but he proved them wrong. He is going somewhere with his program and doing it by the recruiting classes he is getting."

Mark Stoops is the defensive coordinator and Fowler is slowly learning what the Stoops name brings to the table.

"I didn't realize he had brothers that are head coaches," Fowler said. "Last year was the first year of being the coordinator and I saw that he had a good year in his first year. With him and Coach Eliot, they were in the top five in sacks, so that was real cool."

Coach Elliot is D.J. Eliot. The first year assistant at FSU has built a pretty strong bond with Fowler and made a lasting impression.

"He is a real energetic coach," Fowler said of Eliot. "When he is out there coaching you think he is a player on the team. He is a coachable coach and knows what to show you. He has a lot of moves."

There is a lot of love for Florida State, and at the same time there is some quirkiness with Fowler. He continues to stay in contact and visit the University of Florida, the coaching staff, and even some of the players in Gainesville.

As much as he continues to stay ‘100% committed' to the Seminoles, there seems to be something that is bothering him enough to continue to give looks in the direction of Florida. Those looks could get real serious after the football season.

"It could get real shaky after the season depending on how the season goes and how the depth goes at Florida State," Fowler said if his commitment.

As a matter fact, the plan now is for Fowler to visit Florida at least one more time than he plans on visiting FSU.

"I am going to three Florida games," he said. "I will go when they play Alabama and when they play Vanderbilt because I am good friends with Josh Grady who went to Armwood. Matt Jones and I are going to go up there and watch him get crushed by Florida. He's been saying ‘we are going to beat Florida'. He is supposed to get a lot of playing time, so I can't wait for Ronald Powell to just drill him. Then I will also go to the Florida State game."

So, I had to ask the question? Why three visits if you are committed elsewhere?

"Three visits… because before Urban Meyer and Coach McCarney left, I was really going to commit to Florida," Fowler said and actually committed to FSU three days before Meyer retired. "I had a real good bond with both of them. They were real good coaches. They gave me good direction. My mom was in love with Urban, they were kind of like the same.

"Then when they left I liked what Florida State was doing with their program with Coach Fisher and Coach Elliot and everything."

It was as if Fowler could sense the change coming in Meyer and when that happened he made a quick change himself and committed to FSU.

It took a little while for Fowler to come out of his shell about Florida and new head coach Will Muschamp, but he finally did so when he started to learn things about the Gators fireball of a leader and some of his staff like defensive coordinator and line coach Dan Quinn. "Well, I am a really big fan of Sergio Kindle and I came to find out that Coach Muschamp coached Kindle," Fowler said. "Jason Taylor in the NFL said that ‘Coach Quinn was the best coach he ever had'.

"I went up there and spent some time with them and they were really good coaches and I always wanted to be coached by a defensive coach. Coach Muschamp is a really good coach.

"Coach Muschamp is cool. He is a defensive coach and they say he is one of the best defensive coaches in college football. He is supposed to be cool off the field but when it is time to practice it is time to practice. I heard he will jump down your throat at practice, but everyone I talk to says they know he is just trying to teach them."

Like most folks, he was a bit surprised of Quinn. It would seem appropriate for the 12 year NFL veteran line coach to conjure up thoughts of a real nasty dude. Instead Quinn is pleasant and well-spoken when you talk to him.

"He is so laid back," Fowler said of the new defensive coordinator. "But at the same time he really knows what he is doing. I never saw him coach before, but Ronald Powell says that he is a real cool coach and when it comes time for practice he is a totally different person."

Florida has told Fowler that he would play the SAM and the BUCK positions much like Powell if he came on board. It is a position of desperate need for personnel that can properly play both positions.

For the Gators and the Noles for that matter, it has been a recruiting process based on promoting their own team. With Fisher and Muschamp being really good friends, there are no harsh recruiting tactics going on, just self-promotion.

"There is no negative recruiting," Fowler said. "Just that one time when Coach Muschamp asked ‘why play in front of 25,000 people when you can play in front of 92,000 every Saturday'. That really isn't negative to me, he was just joking around."

With plans on also going to a USF game simply because they are right in Tampa, Fowler says the three schools will likely be all he visits this fall.

In the meantime, he stays committed to Florida State. It will likely stay that way…. at least until the end of the football season. Then as he said, "It could get real shaky".


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