May 27, 2004
FSU offensive line coach Jimmy Heggins welcomes a rare occurrence in 2004 and that is the return of all five starters along the offensive front. Heggins had to scramble this time last year as he lost four of the five starters, and he must have felt snake bitten this past spring when all but Matt Meinrod missed most of spring with injuries. But the surgeries should be healed and a big reason FSU’s offense expects to move the football is the return of the entire offensive line from a year ago.
Senior All-America candidates anchor the offensive line in tackles Alex Barron and Ray Willis. Barron earned consensus All-America honors as a junior and has been anointed by most of the preseason magazines this year. At 6-6, 308, he plays the challenging split tackle position at FSU with a wing span that seems to stymie his entire side of the field. Willis is equally tough at the tight tackle spot and will be entering his third season at first team with 25 starts, including all 13 games last year to his credit.
Sophomore Mario Henderson started the Orange Bowl game against Miami and managed considerable playing time behind Barron at split tackle last year. He will enter the fall as the backup there again. Redshirt freshman David Overmyer has coaches excited about his potential and they will ask him to backup Willis at the tight tackle.
David Castillo returns at center which is a much bigger statement than it would seem. An outstanding talent and one of the top leaders on the team, Castillo played every game last year with a cast on a broken foot that only served as a distraction for his injured left hand that will require a series of operations once his playing days are over. He received a sixth year of eligibility for missing the 2002 season and will return to his starting role listed with the same class, a junior, that he was a year ago. He will be backed up by sophomore John Frady who answered the bell in crucial situations as a true freshman last year. Converted defensive tackle Brian Ross will get a look here as well.
Senior Bobby Meeks will battle junior Ron Lunford to maintain his starting role at tight guard. The two shared the position last year, while Meeks battled medical conditions that should not be as much a factor in 2004. Junior Matt Heinz missed all of last year with an injury and he will begin this season listed behind both Meeks and Lunford.
Junior Matt Meinrod started every game at split guard last year and was the sole offensive line starter to go through spring drills. He proved extremely effective last year and provides coaches with leadership and savvy at the position. Sophomore Cory Niblock will lineup behind him with Eric Broe also a possibility here.
FSU’s young backups along the offensive front got all the work this spring, so the Seminoles will head into fall with returning starters at each position and reserves with some serious practice time in the books.
ST 70 Alex Barron 6-6 308 SR
75 Mario Henderson 6-7 307 SO