TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – There were no footballs flying inside Florida State’s indoor practice facility on Thursday afternoon.
No formations, no routes – nothing that much resembled football.
But the Seminoles believe that what they did Thursday, and what they’ve been doing for the last few weeks, is a key part of every season: the annual “Fourth Quarter” conditioning drills.
For about an hour the Seminoles ran, jumped and sweated their way through a field-spanning circuit designed to give them an edge come crunch time this fall. They’ve been at it since mid-February and wrap up on Friday.
“This has nothing to do with ability,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “The intangibles you get out of this are not the things God blessed you with. These are the things (where) you’ve got to learn, as I say, the grind of football that allows you to have a chance to be successful.
“It was a very necessary month, for sure.”
As is the case every year, Thursday’s open session showcased plenty of new faces, as well as some familiar ones adapting to new roles.
Rising sophomores like Derwin James and Josh Sweat are experiencing the drills for the first time.
So, too, is a group of seven freshmen that enrolled in January. That includes kicker Ricky Aguayo, quarterback Malik Henry and linebacker Josh Brown, among others.
Brown in particular drew positive reviews from older teammates after the workout session.
“Those (new) guys have fit right in,” Fisher said. “They don’t stick out. They’ve excelled. They’ve done a really good job in that regard.”
Meanwhile, several upperclassmen are now stepping into the leadership shoes vacated by the likes of Jalen Ramsey, Terrance Smith and Roberto Aguayo.
It’s no surprise that Fisher mentioned junior running back Dalvin Cook and senior defensive end DeMarcus Walker in that group.
But he also singled out James, who has only been in the program a little more than a year, and junior receiver Travis Rudolph as well.
“We have a lot of guys that left to go to the NFL last year and they were leaders,” Cook said. “And I know I have to step up this year and be more vocal to these guys. And they look up to me as a leader, so I just have to lead in the right way.”
Eight Noles To Miss Spring Practice
Fisher announced Thursday that eight Seminoles are slated to miss spring practice due to injuries and ailments. That list includes:
OL Abdul Bello (knee)
DL Keith Bryant (foot)
OL Ryan Hoefeld (shoulder)
OL Derrick Kelly (knee)
TE Jeremy Kerr (shoulder)
QB Sean Maguire (ankle)
WR Da’Vante Phillips (core muscle)
LB Janarius Robinson (shoulder)
OL Chad Mavety
Sophomore receiver Da’Vante Phillips could also miss time with a core muscle problem.
Fisher was especially disappointed for Bryant, who had lost weight and spent some time at defensive end before breaking his foot.
“I’m going to tell you what, Keith was doing outstanding,” Fisher said. “… I felt bad for him.”
Maguire is still not walking on the ankle he broke during the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Dec. 31, but Fisher said he is due to get out of his walking boot next week and start putting weight on it.
The fifth-year senior attended Thursday’s Fourth Quarter drills despite not being able to participate and joined the team’s breakdown huddle at the end.
“Sean is the ultimate team guy,” Fisher said. “He’s going to do everything under the sun.”
Elsewhere, Demarcus Christmas, Lorenzo Featherston, Ja’Vonn Harrison, Ermon Lane, Justin Shanks and Johnathan Vickers sat out on Thursday, but Fisher expects them back for spring practice.
Receiver Bobo Wilson will miss the beginning of the spring, but should be available by the end.
Johnson picks up pointers from Tony Boselli
With both freshman All-America honors and a Jacobs Blocking Trophy under his belt, junior left tackle Roderick Johnson has already enjoyed several highlights in his young career.
Count rubbing shoulders with a future Hall-of-Famer as another.
Johnson met Tony Boselli, a former star with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the father of freshman lineman Andrew Boselli, on Boselli’s recruiting trip to FSU.
Johnson said Boselli shared some technique tips and also told stories from his time in the NFL.
“It’s a pleasure and an honor just to talk to someone who has been there and has done all the things I would like to do,” Johnson said. “So it was real good to know what it took to get there and those things. And of course I’ll try to do what he says.”
Johnson is also noticeably slimmer and said he’s down to around 315 pounds after playing at 323 pounds a year ago.
Walker talks about decision to come back
DeMarcus Walker is quick to praise defensive ends coach Brad Lawing for his 2014 resurgence.
After posting 10.5 sacks and forcing four fumbles in his first year under Lawing’s guidance, the senior is eager to see what he can do in Year 2. Walker said learning from Lawing for another season played a big part in his decision to put pro football on hold.
“There’s more to learn,” Walker said. “When I announced I was coming back for my senior year, (Lawing) and I had a long convo about my expectations, what I could do better.
“And he said he was going to try to do the best he can, go to the NFL meetings, and see what knowledge he could get and apply it here. We’re doing a great job here.”
With second-team All-ACC honors already to his credit, Walker is setting his sights higher for 2016.
“I have a lot more to prove,” he said. “I feel I can be the most dominant player in the country.”