Aug. 8, 2011
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
|Follow me on Twitter|
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — There wasn’t any pads or hitting but the Florida State football team returned to action Monday afternoon for the first day of fall camp.
The Seminoles, who were in helmets, shorts and jerseys, entered the Al Dunlap Practice Fields for the first time this fall but quickly had to return to the locker room because of lightning in the area. In total, the team was delayed about 45 minutes.
As will be the case throughout the rest of this week, I will post my observations from the small bit of practice that head coach Jimbo Fisher allows the media to watch and then will have a daily feature story about practice through the remainder of the month.
Make sure to check back daily for the new observations and feature stories as well as video interviews and highlights from the official practice report submitted through the FSU sports information office.
Monday marked not only the first day of practice but the first of five days of what the coaching staff is calling an “acclimation period.”
That means a lot of walk-throughs and rehearsing of plays, formations and assignments. The media is only allowed to be out at practice for the first few periods so in-depth observations and analyses are virtually impossible.
But there are some things that can still be learned.
I am a numbers guy. I always pay attention to what numbers the freshmen get and which returners switched to new digits in the offseason. In my many years of “numbers watching,” I have never seen a player that did both of those things in the same offseason — until now.
True freshman Derrick Mitchell and Trey Pettis are also both No. 56 while newcomers Bobby Hart and Georgio Newberry are both No. 51.
Speaking of Jernigan, the massive defender is, well, massive and that’s the common theme for the rest of the freshmen. Since national signing day earlier this year, there has been a lot of hype about the listed measurements of each of the members of the class. I even wrote about it here.
But those measurements are just numbers and there is no guarantee that a player’s listed height and weight will match his actual measurements once they get to campus. After seeing these guys today, it’s crystal clear that the nation’s No. 1-ranked recruiting class is as big in person as it is on paper.
“We look beefy,” quarterback EJ Manuel said. “We are the biggest we have been since I have been here and we have kept our speed. If anything, the whole team is faster.”
Imagine what they will look like when the pads come on for the first time this Saturday.
Newcomers create quite a buzz
FSU ballyhooed 2011 signing class certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to first glances, but the youngest `Noles also impressed their older teammates on opening day.
“Some of those guys you can’t miss,” Manuel said. “Kelvin Benjamin made some plays. All of those guys I thought were out there making plays today. At first, it looked like there were a few “deer in headlights” but they caught on pretty quick. ”
“I guess I am a little older than them,” Bradham said. “I mean, they call me grandpa and stuff like that. But they do look up to me and I’m going to do what I can in order to help them out. It’s just a great freshman class we have out there and a lot of them are going to play.”
Like a fisherman who isn’t willing to toss back his catch of the day, Fisher said:
“I’m not disappointed in any of them. You see athleticism, size, ball skills, blocking ability, change-of-direction. For the most part they fit in very well, because the way we split them up they were getting the same amount of reps as the [starters].”
Personnel changes announced
Following Monday’s workout, Fisher announced that three veterans, offensive linemen senior Rhonne Sanderson and sophomore Blake Snider, and redshirt freshman tight end Tank Sessions had been medically disqualified, ending their playing careers. “It’s a shame,” said Fisher. “I thought all of those guys had a chance to be good players.” Fisher said they will stay on and work with the team as student assistants. … Fisher also announced that junior walk-on long snapper Dax Dellenbach had been awarded a scholarship. The Seminoles are now at the NCAA maximum 85 scholarship players.
New practice fields earn high marks
Five months after bulldozers and dump trucks rolled onto the old practice fields to begin a complete overhaul of the three-field complex, the Seminoles got their first chance to work out on the well-manicured Al Dunlap Practice fields Monday.
“It makes a huge difference,” Fisher said of the fields, which have been off-limits up until this point. “Field conditions are huge. If you have a Kentucky Derby horse, you pay $8 million dollars for it, you don’t go train it where there are holes on the field and bad sod. You’ve got a lot guys out here where, as they progress in their careers, they can make a whole lot of money, too. This is a big health issue. I think this will really help [limit] our injuries, having fields like this.”
Later start for Seminoles
It’s been quite a while since a Florida State football team opened preseason camp as late as Aug. 8. The last time the `Noles opened camp this late was 2006, when they began practice on the same date. In 2005, FSU held its first practice on Aug. 9.
Reid back on the Hornung watch list
Junior cornerback/return specialist Greg Reid was one of 50 players named to the 2011 Paul Hornung Award Watch List on Monday. The Valdosta, Ga. native is one of 16 players who has made the list for second consecutive year. Presented annually by the Louisville Sports Commission, the award honors the most versatile player in major college.