Aug. 7, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State opened its 2009 football preseason camp with a crisp practice session Friday evening which drew praise from coach Bobby Bowden and the Seminoles’ staff.
“We went faster with play,” said Bowden, who begins his 34th season at the helm. “Instead of having one group over here working, we divided it into two, so two groups could get the same (repetitions) that one used to get. We got a lot of work today. They went double time and they held up pretty doggone good. It was a pretty good first practice.”
Just over 100 Seminoles hit the field in shorts and helmets for the 2 ½-hour session, which was neither short on effort or highlights.
Offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher said the Seminoles practiced at a “championship tempo.”
The players noticed the difference.
“I feel like our team has more enthusiasm,” senior defensive tackle Kendrick Stewart said. “People want to come out to practice. I think in previous years we never really bonded as well as we did this summer. I really feel like this summer was the stepping stone we needed to get better.”
Much of the practice was spent with the players working with their specific position segments, though there were a number of small-group pairings pitting the offense against the defense.
Junior quarterback EJ Manuel showed no ill-effects in his return to the field following surgery on the right thumb which derailed his spring preparation.
Among the handful of defensive highlights was senior safety Jamie Robinson, who jumped an underneath route on a pass intended for freshman tailback Chris Thompson and returned the interception for a would-be score.
The Seminoles will return to the practice field Saturday morning for their second workout. Practices are closed to the public.
Fans get their chance to meet the 2009 Seminoles Sunday at the Donald L. Tucker Center with the annual Fan Day events, sponsored by Seminole ISP Sports. The doors open at 12 noon with an autograph session beginning at 1 p.m.
Walk-ons no longer
A pair of former walk-ons, senior wide receiver Louis Givens and grad student long-snapper Zach Aronson, have earned scholarships for the 2009 season. Bowden made the announcement at the conclusion of the first practice.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Givens, a Jacksonville native. “I have always felt like I was a part of the team since I got here because the coaches and players treat you right. The staff is great at making you feel welcome. But now that it’s official that I am on scholarship, it’s a great feeling to not have to worry about paying for school. Now I can focus more on class and football and not have to worry about that in the back of my mind.”
Givens caught four passes for 44 yards and rushed three times for 32 yards as a reserve last season. He also recorded 13 special teams tackles.
Aronson handled all the Seminoles special teams snaps last season – a job he’s expected to hold – and was virtually flawless.
Adding to the graduate count
Cornerback Ochuko Jenije, a redshirt junior athletically, is the lone current Seminole who will participate in graduation ceremonies Saturday. Jenije, who has been accepted into Florida State’s graduate studies program, has earned his undergraduate degree in sports management.
Former defensive tackle Emmanuel Dunbar, whose career was cut short by a back injury, will also graduate with a dual degree in criminal justice and sociology.
The list of former `Noles walking, does not stop there. It has been 30 years since Homer Thomas set foot on campus as a defensive back, but the successful businessman will graduate with a degree in rehabilitation services. Check out Seminoles.com for Thomas’ heart-warming story.
Among the more recent former `Noles graduating are two members of the 1999 national championship team – wide receiver Talman Gardner and offensive tackle Tarlos Thomas – who have earned their degrees in social science and criminal justice, respectively.
Linebacker Kendyll Pope, and standout from 2000-03, is also graduating with a social science degree.