Aug. 5, 2010
Jimbo Fisher's Florida State football team hit the ground running - and throwing - at Thursday evening's practice, ushering in a new era of Seminoles football to start the 2010 preseason.
Fisher was greeted by a couple-dozen photographers chronicling the historic moment as he crossed under the arched entrance to the Al Dunlap Practice Fields. It marked the first time since August 1976 that the Seminoles began a preseason with a new head coach.
"It was a good moment, but you had to put it behind you and go coach," said Fisher.
In all, 103 Seminoles took the field in 90-degree heat, under cloudless skies for the session that ran just over two hours.
"Everyone was excited," said senior quarterback Christian Ponder, who lined up alongside nine returning starters on offense. "Everyone's ready to start the year off. There was a little anxiety in the beginning and it was a little warm, but guys pushed, worked hard and were excited. Finally the season has started. ... It's going to be a long camp but we're going to do a lot of work to get better."
Fisher set the tone for the new era during spring practice, which carried over throughout a rigorous offseason conditioning program. Thursday marked the first time the team could get a measure of the significant progress that was made.
"We finally got to put a helmet on; finally got to have the coaches yelling at you," said senior cornerback Ochuko Jenije. "It's kind of a reward. It's been a long time since the spring. We've worked very hard. I'm glad to be back out here."
Jenije praised the work of new strength & conditioning coach Vic Viloria and his expanded staff, for getting he and his teammates ready.
"Coach Vic came in very excited, ready to work every single day," Jenije said. "You can tell by the weight [gained] and the speed we have. ... In a way we picked up where we left off [in the spring] and in a way we took a couple steps in the process toward getting better. We've done our work in the offseason with our film work and our work out on the field."
Among the Seminoles on the field for the first time were members of Fisher's heralded signing class.
"I haven't seen them all summer," said Fisher, who talked excitedly about the newcomers. "I wouldn't throw any of them back. If our live-well was full, I'd get another live-well. I saw some things out there - energy level, ball skill (and) big guys changing direction."
While the highly-touted youngsters like Lamarcus Joyner, Christian Jones, Christian Green, Kenny Shaw, Will Tye and Darious Cummings, left a favorable initial presence, Fisher joked that they've still got plenty of room to grow.
"They had the normal jitters," said Fisher. "The young guys were running around. When they got to the drills, they knew what to do, they were just trying to find out where the drills were. The attitude was good and the work ethic was good. It was a pretty warm day and we handled it for the most part."
Ponder echoed Fisher's sentiment about the true freshmen.
"They were great," he said. "They got a lot of reps today and they took advantage of it. The thing that impressed me is that they all know what they're doing. They came in prepared and studied a lot during the summer and tried to catch up to where the older guys were. I was impressed."
Redshirt sophomore defensive end Everett Dawkins:
"It was a real good first day. You didn't have people sloughing around. There was a lot of excitement; a lot of people jumping around, chasing to the ball and getting their assignments right. It wasn't perfect but it was real good for a first day."
"All of the coaches were pumped up so the players were pumped up, too."
Senior All-American offensive guard Rodney Hudson:
"Everybody was excited to get back out here, work hard and get after a new season. It was good. Everybody was competing. We had a good summer in the weight room and we wanted to get back out here and perform."
Senior quarterback Christian Ponder:
"There's definitely a comfort level. I think having coach Fisher here on staff for three years it really made the transition a lot easier."
Senior cornerback Ochuko Jenije:
"The defense was excited, flying around to the ball to make an impression on the coaches. There were a lot of pbus [pass break-ups], interceptions and big plays."
Ponder connected on a couple perfectly thrown deep balls to sophomore wide receiver Rodney Smith during 7-on-7 drills...Freshman wide receivers Christian Green and Kenny Shaw and junior Bert Reed, and freshman tight end Will Tye, all left impressions with catches in traffic...Jenije, sophomore cornerback Greg Reid and junior safety Terrance Parks came up with hustling pass break-ups, while freshman safety Chad Abram collected an interception...Offensive tackles Antwane Greenlee and safety Avis Commack returned to action on the field after recovering from significant injuries...The Seminoles will practice again Friday at 6 p.m.