Player Focus: SS Maurice Sikes

Senior strong safety Mo Sikes sat out the spring following shoulder surgery in January. With a unique perspective of watching all the action from the sidelines he has a lot to discuss regarding spring ball. He also weighed in on the 2002 season as well as the upcoming season and more. We even get to the bottom of why he favored Florida State initially before selecting the Hurricanes.

You decided to wait until January for your shoulder surgery. When was the original injury?
I hurt it on Ernest Graham's run in the Florida game when he scored and I hit him around the goal line. I played at probably 60-70% the rest of the season.

Was the seriousness of the surgery something that would have kept you out too long if you'd had surgery right away?
Yes, I tore ligaments and wouldn't have been able to play anytime soon after the surgery and I didn't want to miss any time. I just decided to play through it. I would take Tylenol before the game and once the game got started the adrenaline would take over. It hurt real bad until about Tuesday and then I was ready for the next game.

What are your thoughts on how some of the younger defensive backs performed in the spring?
I think both Marcus Maxey and Greg Threat did extremely well and they look ready. I also think Travarous Bain looked real good and Terrell Walden did also.

Last season all eyes were on the secondary with the loss of your top five guys from the 2001 team. This season you are a strength and the defensive line, the ends in particular, will be under the microscope. What are your thoughts on how the defensive line performed this spring?
I think they played hungry and they are out to prove people wrong like we did last year as a secondary. I think Baraka Atkins did a lot of good things. John Square held his own and has an excellent motor. He doesn't have a lot of size but he has a lot of heart and want to out there.

What were your impressions of the young receiver corps we have coming back this season?
Most of them were hurt 60-70% of the time so it is hard to judge them. They all have the talent for sure and I really noticed Ryan Moore last year. He has great hands and he would catch some balls that left me wondering how he did it. I think they just need to get healthy and they'll make plays. It looks like Hester is going to be a good one but since I haven't gone against him in pads it is skewed. He has the speed but he'll have to produce on the field to earn respect. They have a great coach at wide receiver so I think they'll be fine.

What is the mood of the team this offseason?
I think there is a hunger, not necessarily a chip on our shoulder. I read the magazine you had that said "Leave No Doubt" and I think that was ironic and that is pretty much our mindset right now. We should take that as a slogan. We just need to cut down on turnovers on offense and create more turnovers on defense. We would scrimmage today if we could. The Fiesta Bowl loss was a fluke, we are the Hurricanes and we just want to get back at it.

Anyone really stood out in offseason workouts to you?
Kellen Winslow is just killing it right now. He is the best in college football and there is no one even close. I could talk all day about him. I'd be surprised if he came back, he was the best tight end in the country last year and he is going to be even better this year. I hope he comes back but right now no one on our defense can cover him and if we can't then no one else can.

What are your goals for the 2003 season?
I just want to be better than I was last season, especially playing with the injury. I already feel better physically. I just want to win a championship, anything less is unacceptable. I want to enjoy the moment with this being my last year. I'm playing at the best university in the country and just want to go out there and have fun this year.

Did you know all along that you'd end up attending the University of Miami?
Actually in the 11th grade I was a FSU fan and felt that was where I was going. Coach Cottrell was there and he was recruiting me the hardest and I really liked him. I liked all Florida schools but he showed me the most love and when he went to Alabama I told myself I wasn't going there for sure so Butch and Pete Garcia started talking to me and I knew I wanted to go to UM once they got serious about offering me. I just didn't feel the same about FSU after Coach Cottrell left. I always preferred Miami but I just wasn't recruited by them until late but I'm glad they did.

I assume you are happy with your decision?
Yes, I'm real close to home and my mom can come and watch me play and I came in with Andre Johnson, the Weavers and Vernon Carey.

From watching spring ball from the sidelines, what is your take on the quarterback decision?
Honestly, we're not going to lose with either guy.

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