Here are a few odds and ends from a busy day of talking to players and watching the Seminoles in action for the first time this season. I'll try to make this a semi-regular thing when I have bits that don't fit in other places but are worth pointing out.
Hopkins Touts Aguayo
Though initially the plan was for kicker Roberto Aguayo to take a grayshirt year and be on the team in 2013, recent shuffling of the roster has opened a spot and Aguayo will be on the team this season. Though senior Dustin Hopkins, a Groza candidate and one of the top kicking prospects in the nation, is firmly entrenched ahead of Aguayo, that hasn't stopped him from impressing his new team.
"Berto's a really good kicker, I'm really excited for next season," said Hopkins. "I would say he's better than I was coming in my freshman year as far as being able to kick off the ground and everything. We still have the whole camp to go through and I'm sure he's going to grow even more, but he's really impressed me thus far."
New Kickoff Rules
Speaking of Hopkins, he also commented on the new kickoff rules that place touchbacks at the 25 yardline. This frankly, puts strong-legged kickers like Hopkins at a disadvantage because it devalues a touchback. It's going to change the way a lot of kickers approach kickoff duties, Hopkins will be no different.
"It's definitely something I've worked on, trying to get height instead of just driving the ball," Hopkins said. "It's something I've tried to add to my arsenal, I'm working on it."
Dustin said he's not sure what the team strategy will be on kickoffs quite yet, even if he were I doubt he'd divulge it to us. Though he was very polite, as he always is, I doubt Hopkins cares much for the new rules. The NCAA also changed onside kicks so they must bounce twice but Hopkins admitted onside kicking already wasn't a strength so it's less of a concern for him.
As for how he's been working on the new kickoff strategies, Hopkins attended a Jamie Kohl kicking camp with a number of other college kickers this summer. Hopkins has attended Kohl's camps since his sophomore year.
Reid's Presence Still Felt
One of the more candid admissions of the afternoon came from Chris Thompson when asked about the challenge of watching 2011 from the sidelines as he rehabbed a broken back:
"During the season, I hate to bring this up, but just looking at Greg [Reid] play, that did something for me," said Thompson. "It helped my spirits a whole lot just seeing the excitement, you know the excitement he brought, it made me want to rush back."
Reid's enthusiam and vocal brand of leadership will be missed this season, early on you can tell some players are noticing a bit of a void as Thompson isn't the only guy to comment on Reid's absence. For those who criticize Reid for his off-the-field indiscretions, on the field Reid has always been a fiery, enthusiastic leader.
Menelik Watson, Impressively Raw
Menelik Watson is an interesting story, he's a juco transfer who hails from Manchester, England and has very little experience playing organized football. If that doesn't seem like an ideal candidate to play on the Seminoles' line, it may be worth mentioning that for all his inexperience Watson is 6-6, 320 and runs a 4.7-40.
Basically, he's all potential.
"I'm kind of jealous, I'm just like wow I've been playing football since I was 11," said redshirt junior lineman Bryan Stork. "That's just really cool that someone can be that athletically gifted. He's got a good head on his shoulders and a good work ethic, I think he'll be fine."
Dawkins on the Early AM Practice
Florida State's decision to move its Wednesday practice to 5:30 AM definitely caught a few of their players by surprise.
"I've been here for a long time and I've never done that before, they said that and I was just like 'ugh,'" joked 5th year senior Everett Dawkins. "You know we're still in class, this is the last week of school a lot of guys have papers and stuff to do but I guess you just have to get in when you can. It's going to be interesting."
So keep that in mind as you drag yourself out of bed tomorrow morning. Everett Dawkins and the Seminoles were out on the practice field at 5:30 AM... Don't you dare hit that snooze.