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24 posts from December 2012

December 31, 2012

Lamarcus Joyner Isn't Laughing About Jordan Lynch



It's not just the name of a goofy looking horse mascot that finds its way on to the sideline of Florida State sporting events these days, it's also the Spanish word that "Seminoles" is derived from. It means "wild men."

And perhaps no term is a more apt description of Florida State junior safety Lamarcus Joyner.

The 5-9 195-pound safety came to FSU as a highly-touted recruit out of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas and immediately gravitated towards former Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops.

It was Stoops that was instrumental in teaching Joyner to harness what had been- up to that point- a raw, unbridled energy. Joyner is passionate about football, he loves the sport, however at times early in his career controlling that fire proved difficult.

But in Joyner, Stoops saw shades of another player he had mentored, former Miami Hurricanes safety Ed Reed. Over the past three years Joyner has learned to focus his athleticism and energy and dole it out in brutal doses to receivers, backs and QB's unfortunate enough to cross his path in the Seminole secondary.

Despite his compact size, Joyner plays safety like a heat-seeking missile. He comes into every game with a fire that threatens to rage out of control the moment he senses an opportunity to lay the wood on someone. He rarely misses that opportunity. 

That could be bad news for Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch, who opted to give Florida State some bulletin board material last week upon arriving in Miami.

"They're fast, they're physical, but they haven't seen anything like our offense," said Lynch. "We plan on wearing them down. In the fourth quarter, we plan to have them on their knees and then just keep pounding away."

While Florida State has been mostly diplomatic about the comments, Lamarcus Joyner is the last player that needs to be more fired up heading into a major game in front of his hometown crowd.

Joyner plays the game of football angry, he doesn't need to be cajoled, he gets up on his own. Now with his mentor gone to Kentucky to assume its head coaching job and an opposing quarterback willfully stirring the pot, Joyner's rage could potentially boil over in the Orange Bowl.

“I heard their quarterback says they have an up-tempo offense and that they are looking forward to running us into the grass,"  remarked Joyner yesterday after practice. "That’s all I know about the offense other than what I see on film. They've got some good football players or else they wouldn’t be 15th in the country or be in the Orange Bowl so we are looking forward to the challenge.”

Aside from the fact that Jordan Lynch probably didn't watch many Clemson games this year (the Tigers have a more balanced, higher scoring offense- and played better competiton), Lynch just painted a Lamarcus Joyner-sized target on his back. 

And Joyner isn't amused.

“It makes football that much more interesting. When you put that bullseye on yourself, you have to be able to walk the talk. I respect it. I like it. I think it’s cute,” said Joyner sarcastically.

Cute is probably not what Lynch was going for, but you can be sure he'll need to have his head on a swivel come Tuesday night with Joyner looking to exact some punishment on him for what many around the Florida State program feel was hubris.

Joyner is a dynamic kick-returner and a bit of a ball-hawk, but even more than that he's a reputably big hitter. Oftentimes Joyner gets penalized for legal hits merely for the fact they happen at such a high rate of speed and with such brutality. 

Hopefully for Jordan Lynch's sake, he won't be victimized by a Lamarcus Joyner decleater. But you can rest assured Joyner will be looking for him once the Orange Bowl kicks off.

Whether Joyner or Lynch ultimately back up their talk will be determined Tuesday night, but if the past is any indication, don't bet against Joyner. If there was any question as to whether he could focus his anger without Stoops patrolling the Florida State sideline, now the junior safety has somebody to focus that anger on.

That's good news for Seminole fans.

December 30, 2012

Lonnie Pryor Preparing to Finish Strong


Lonnie Pryor is a character. Few players on the Florida State roster bring the sort of electric personality and genuine sense of humor to an interview that Pryor provides. On Sunday morning the senior fullback completed his last practice ever at Florida State, but in his typical fashion, he wasn't waxing nostalgic about what has been a great FSU career. 

He was finding ways to make his own fun.

After practice as reporters swarmed around Jimbo Fisher, recorders and cameras in hand, Pryor snuck up to the back of the pack and did his best Edwin Pope impersonation.

"What are you going to do get the fullback the ball?" came a voice from the back of the gaggle.

As reporters turned to see who had asked such a strangely specific question, Pryor ducked out of the sight of Jimbo Fisher, but evidently not fast enough of as Fisher zinged him back:

"I'm going to have to recruit one that's real fast and athletic, that's a good player and does all those good things, [one that] can catch and not drop balls. We've got no recruiting for that."

As Pryor walked off laughing, Fisher reminded him, "Hey, you know I always get the last word. You should know better than that!"

Then Fisher turned back to reporters and said in earnest, "No, that guy right there, we can get him the ball and he does thing. He's one heck of a football player."

That will be the legacy Pryor leaves behind at Florida State, a tweener-type running back who was willing to do anything and everything to help his team, Pryor has been a weapon at fullback for Florida State the past few seasons. Whether he's asked to carry the ball, catch it or block, Pryor handles his business with a workman-like quality that has rubbed off on his teammates and made him beloved by Florida State fans.

"This is a great way [to finish out my career]," said Pryor later when I asked him about playing in the Orange Bowl. "[I'm enjoying] some of the events and just being on South Beach. We're in Miami, there's always something to do, the wind, the sun's always out, the wind's always blowing. It's a nice area, we're in a great hotel, so it's a great place to be here in Miami."

Next up for Pryor after the bowl game will be looking for a place to train and get ready for the pro's. Already Pryor has drawn comparisons to current Denver Bronco fullback Jacob Hester. Hester had a similar career at LSU and was selected by the San Diego Chargers in the third round of the 2008 NFL draft.

"Hopefully I'm going to find a place to train and go from there," said Pryor. "I don't have any invitations to any of the [senior] bowl games. I'm going to just keep [doing] me and hopefully everything works out. [Maybe] I need to [start lobbying some people]."

I don't know how Pryor hasn't received an invitation to play in either the Shrine Game or the Senior Bowl, but once he shows up at the combine his draft stock should get a nice boost. 

For now though, Pryor is just focused on leaving Florida State with a win.

"We're just going to go out there and play football," said Pryor. "We're not worried about what anyone's saying or anything , we're just going to go play football like we always do."

Florida State Practice Report: 12/30


Florida State was hard at work during practice on Sunday morning, just two days out from their Orange Bowl matchup with Northern Illinois. It was a brisk day, cold by Miami standards, but the sun was shining and the sky was cloudless for the Seminoles as they put the final touches on their preparations for the Huskies.

“Good cold Thursday, it was cold today, I even had to put my sweater on," joked Jimbo Fisher after practice. "The wind was blowing pretty good, but it actually warmed up. The guys had a very solid practice, did some nice things. I like where we’re at mentally, I like where we’re at physically, now it’s just a matter of going and playing the game.

“We’ve just got to- during the last 48 hours- make sure we’re dotting our i’s and crossing our t’s and understand all situations and be ready to go.”

What exactly does that entail?

“Just knowing what to do and relaxing and just doing it," said Fisher. "It’s just like anything, the more you know it, see the film, see how the guy covers you or how he’s going to block you or whatever it is and maybe get a read or whatever it’s going to be. It’s not just knowing what you’ve got to do, it’s knowing how you’ve got to do it.”

Josue Matias Update

Left guard Josue Matias was out at practice with his ankle taped up, he is still expected to play on Tuesday though.

“He’s good, he’ll be fine, he took reps today and everything, we just rested him a little bit today. He’ll be fine. He should be 100%," said Fisher. "[It was] just a little tweak and we wanted also get some reps in there for Bobby [Hart] too, we moved him in to guard a little bit because he’s been a guard and tackle, we wanted to get him some reps in there because you’re always trying to play some situations and Bobby’s had a good week of practice.”

Last Practice for Seniors

Today was the last day of practice (ever) for Florida State's senior class, but Jimbo Fisher was quick to caution that a player's last practice, last game or even senior day itself brings with it a wealth of unwanted emotions. 

"You can't worry about that, you see that's the thing about these last practices," said Fisher. "It's like senior day, hate to say [this], senior days a great thing, but it does nothing to help you win a game. Every emotion you have on senior day or the last practice is actually opposite of what you [need] to make you play good. Because you don't want those feelings, you think about this when it's all over, you have to learn to put this behind you and play the game. You reminisce about all the old things after everything's done."

So how was the final practice?

"We bounced around, we had fun. You all peeked in there," Fisher joked with reporters. "You all watched them, they're competing and running around. Guys were having a good time."

Tomorrow's Plan

Florida State will approach tomorrow like the typical Friday before a Saturday game, including its meetings and walkthrough. 

December 26, 2012

Pair of Florida State Pitchers Named Pre-Season All-Americans


Collegiate Baseball named two Florida State pitchers as Louisville Slugger pre-season All-Americans last Friday. Sophomores Brandon Leibrandt and Mike Compton were both named third team All-Americans by the publication after leading the Seminoles to the College World Series as freshmen last year.

Leibrandt became the first opening-day freshman starter in Florida State history last year. He went on to compile an 8-3 record and a 2.82 ERA. His best performance came in the Tallahassee regional against Samford when he worked eight scoreless innings and fanned ten. The son of former major league pitcher Charlie Leibrandt, the sophomore left-hander seems poised for another big year for the Seminoles in 2013.

Mike Compton was also named a third-team preseason All-American making it his second preseason honor. He was named to the third team by the National College Baseball Writers Association earlier in the month as well. The right-hander from Branson, MO went 12-2 last season with a 2.87 ERA in 18 starts for FSU. Compton was tied for second nationally for wins with 12, and was the only ACC pitcher in double-digit victories. In 16 of his 18 starts Compton gave up two runs or less, including three games where he held the opposing lineup off the scoreboard entirely.

Both pitchers gained invaluable experience pitching in the postseason last year, making appearances in the regionals, super-regionals and at the college world series in Omaha. 

The Seminoles will look to return to Omaha in 2013 when the season begins Friday, February 15 at 4:00 p.m. as Florida State hosts the University of Rhode Island for a three-game series on Mike Martin Field inside Dick Howser Field.

Seminoles Set to Land in Miami Today, Begin Orange Bowl Prep


It's officially Orange Bowl time. After having a few days off to visit family and enjoy Christmas, the Florida State Seminoles are slated to arrive in Miami today and begin their preparation for next week's Orange Bowl game at Sun Life Stadium.

There are plenty of storylines to cover and angles to look at heading into the January 1st bowl battle between Northern Illinois and the Seminoles. 

Coming up this week we'll have a full compliment of coverage, including news, analysis, previews, a look at a few potential players who could make the jump to the NFL early, a full review of Florida State's first ACC championship season in seven years and an all-time power ranking of the greatest Seminoles teams in history. Keep checking back with us all week for the best Orange Bowl coverage in the state!

December 20, 2012

Florida State Officially Inks Jeremy Pruitt as Defensive Coordinator, Sal Sunseri to Coach DE's


The worst kept secret in Tallahassee is officially out, Florida State has its next defensive coordinator and have also hired a defensive ends coach to boot. 

Jeremy Pruitt, the former Alabama DB's coach and DC at Hoover High School (famous for its appearance on the show Two-a-Days), will be the next defensive coordinator at Florida State. Per Bob Ferrante, Pruitt is scheduled to make 540,000 dollars annual, just a hair less than what Mark Stoops made to coach the Seminole defense.

“This is a great opportunity for me to join another one of the top college football programs in the country and take over as defensive coordinator for one of the best defenses out there,” Pruitt said through a Florida State press release. “I really appreciate Coach Fisher and his staff in welcoming me to the Seminole family. I’ve enjoyed my time at Alabama and am grateful to Coach Saban and my Crimson Tide family for their support in preparing me as I begin the next chapter in my coaching career.”

Said Jimbo Fisher: “I’m very excited to add Jeremy to our staff. He brings a lot to the table. He’s one of the bright young coaches in college football. He’s done an outstanding job at Alabama and in the past as a great high school coach. He’s also a good recruiter, but most importantly of all, he’s a great person. I’m really looking forward to him coming to Florida State and helping us to continue achieving the success that we’ve had and will continue to have. We’re very fortunate to be adding him to our program.”

Jimbo also joked that he'd made Nick Saban mad, Alabama had attempted to retain Pruitt but he opted to take the promotion and will now run the defense at FSU. Fisher said he's known Pruitt since his time at LSU (when Pruitt coached at Hoover) and that he had been near the top of his shortlist all along.

The Seminoles also added DE Coach Sal Sunseri, formerly of Alabama and Tennessee. Sunseri comes in with a very good pedigree, having coached a number of NFL players in his career, and may also help to coach the special teams unit.

Sunseri will make 199,000 annually (once again, per Bob Ferrante). He has been at practice all week but it took his paperwork processing before the Seminoles could make an announcement. 

Florida State still needs to hire another coach or two, their staff next year is not yet finalized, and it's also possible that they could yet lose another coach to a promotion before all is said and done. For now though, there are two new coaches officially on staff for 2013. Sunseri will coach in the Orange Bowl, meanwhile Pruitt will stay on staff with 'Bama through the BCS Championship game. 

Outtakes From: Florida State Seminoles' Williams Brothers Carry Bond to the Field


It really isn't too hard to tell that Karlos and Vince Williams are related. Aside from the familial resemblance, the two come equipped with personalities that fill a room. A lot of college players can be timid when a bunch of reporters stick recorders and cameras in their faces and grill them with questions.

Not the Williams boys. 

If you haven't had a chance to read the feature on the Williams brothers from Thursday's paper, check it out here

The two brothers played together extensively, side-by-side on defense- for the first time at Florida State- in the ACC Championship game. Both talked about how meaningful that was and the fact it was special to their family. 

“They love it, all our family loves it," said Vince. "They eat it up, man, because they can’t really believe like you go from a few years ago being like ‘little Vince and little Karlos’ to being like, ‘man these guys play for Florida State, I saw them on ESPN the other day."

Here are some of the other outtakes from the Williams Brothers:

Vince on playing with Karlos: “I think it’s pretty special, I know a lot of people don’t really get that opportunity and it’s been pretty cool to actually be on the field with your little brother, but I’m telling you, I mean people don’t really know but you don’t really see it that way, like Karlos is just another player on the field when we’re playing. Like he’s my brother yes, but it’s different when I’m on the sideline watching him play than when he’s actually out there. When he’s actually out there I don’t really see him as my little brother it’s just like he’s playing strong safety and he’s got to make plays.

“[But] from the sideline, watching him play I’m like I’m watching my little brother play at Florida State, that’s kind of crazy.”

Karlos on what his Vince said to him when he threw up during the ACC Championship game: “I threw up on the sideline... I’m sitting next to Vince and Christian [Jones] I’m like, 'man my stomach hurts' they said 'you got hit in the stomach?' I said no, he said 'what’s wrong with ya?' I said I think I’m going to throw up.

"He said if you throw up 'I swear you’ve got to move to the defensive backs bench,' so I grabbed a towel and threw up behind the bench and he says, ‘you should be embarrassed and ashamed.’”

Vince on when he first realized Karlos was the better athlete: “It was like a while ago, we were playing basketball in the driveway and I’m beating him but I’m kind of just messing around and I guess I made him mad, he really started getting it. He’s like crossing me up, blowing it passed me and I’m like ‘I can’t stop him.’ So finally I beat him by one point and I’m [panting] like ‘I took it easy on ya.’ But I was giving everything I had to try to keep him from winning. Because Karlos, he’s the type of guy you don’t ever want to let him get one up on you, he’s never going to let you live it down.”

Karlos on concerns over whether he'd lose speed bulking up to move to linebacker: “I weighed 230 my freshman year when I returned a kick against Miami, so my body’s not slowing down.”

Jimbo Fisher on having the Williams boys at practice: "Yeah, they make fun of each other all the time, it may be tougher [for them to concentrate both being out there]. It doesn't hurt to have your brother here though, there's a comfort zone in knowing someone here you're close to I don't think that hurts, but they've both developed really well and become very good players for us."

December 19, 2012

Seminoles Reach Deal to Play in 2014 Cowboy Classic Against Oklahoma State


Florida State has reached an agreement to play their season opener on Labor day weekend in 2014 against Oklahoma State at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas as part of the Cowboy Classic.

Oklahoma State, who's mascot is the Cowboys, will play host to FSU in the annual game. Per a press release from ESPN:

"The 2014 Cowboys Classic, marking the last contest of the current agreement, has also been determined and will pit Florida State against Oklahoma State in prime time on Saturday, Aug. 30. It will be the fifth time the two teams have faced each other and the first since the 1985 Gator Bowl, a 34-23 Florida State victory."

The Cowboy Classic also reached an agreement to extend the game through 2024 at Cowboys Stadium. 

This season Florida State was heavily criticized for having a weak out of conference schedule that included two FCS opponents and a USF team that later fired its coach. That wasn't entirely the Seminoles' doing, they had a game with West Virginia scheduled until the Mountaineers' decision to switch conference created a scheduling conflict that left FSU with just 11 opponents months before the start of the 2012 season.

Regardless of how they got there though, FSU's weak out of conference schedule coupled with the dead weight of the ACC sunk the Seminoles in the computer rankings and effectively eliminated them from contention after their first loss, even as other one and even two-loss teams passed them by.

Going forward you can tell the Seminoles don't want that trend to continue. 

Of course, Seminoles fans will think back to FSU's Labor Day series with Miami from a few years past and be reminded of several games where the team could have used an opponent or two to cut its teeth on before getting into a scrape with a rival or a ranked team. 

Oklahoma State in the first week of the season is a tall order for any team.

That being said, good teams come out of the gates swinging (like Alabama did against Michigan in this year's Cowboy Classic). If the Seminoles want to continue to build and try and climb to the top of the college football mountain, these are the kinds of nationally televised out-of-conference games they will need to win.


Freshman WR Marvin Bracy Just Biding His Time, Making Best of Redshirt Year



When Florida State signed 5-9 170-pound Marvin Bracy out of Boone HS in Orlando, the number that Seminoles fans were truly enamored with had nothing to do with X's and O's. Bracy was the class 4A State Track Champion in the 100 and 200 meter sprints, he won gold in the 2011 Pan-Am Junior championships.

He is one of the fastest men in the world.

It takes Marvin Bracy just a hair over ten seconds to make it 100 yards from a dead-stop.

Bracy was one of the hottest names in camp as a true freshman until the season rolled around and Florida State's considerable depth at receiver relegated him to a redshirt season and a role on the scout team.

If you hadn't heard Bracy's name lately though, don't worry about it. He seems poised to break out next season.

“You can tell he’s going to be a great player, he’s one of those guys that’s waiting his turn but as he’s on scout team he’s getting better going against the starters and he’s really taking advantage of it," said Lamarcus Joyner yesterday. "And he’s actually helping us out because he could potentially be a starter [somewhere else] and to be going hard on scout team, I mean it’s always fun going against him.”

It didn't take long for Marvin Bracy to drop the jaws of his fellow teammates with his incredible footspeed. Just days into camp he was embarrassing Florida State's younger corners.

“It was in one-on-one in camp, I think he was going against (RS Fr DB) Lamarcus Brutus and it was like, five yards into the route he gave him one head nod and then stopping and making the guy flat-footed and now he’s 15 yards ahead of the guy and it’s just like, ‘yeah that’s amazing.’

“He’s really fast, I’ve never seen anyone on the field move like that, never. We call him a track guy, we think he’s too fast to be in pads.”

Bracy, who will also be on the Florida State track and field team, is an exceptional all-around athlete, but I had to ask Joyner (one of the fastest players on the team himself) whether the track speed truly translated to the field– with pads on.

So often you hear about speed demon receivers that come from the track world and are essentially sprinters imitating football players. Miami Dolphins fans need only think back to Clyde Gates to remember a receiver with burner speed and little else in the way of football skills. If they do possess the skills to play, oftentimes their 40-times in shorts are far faster than what they can actually manage in pads during game situations.

So does Bracy's track speed translate?

“He’s the first guy I’ve ever seen the speed convert to the pads, he’s actually fast in pads. He’s able to catch the ball, make moves and look like a real football player," said Joyner, who admits to having been burned by the freshman receiver once or twice himself.

“I mean if he gets you to pause those feet then it’s over. I don’t care who you are, Lamarcus Joyner, Xavier Rhodes, if Bracy gets you to stop those feet then he’s running past you.”

Next season, safeties beware.

December 18, 2012

Practice Notebook: 12/18


Florida State was back out at practice on Tuesday afternoon. The 'Noles donned helmets, shoulder pads and shorts as they worked out on the game field and had their first day of prep for NIU.

After taking ten days off the Seminoles got back on the field at the end of last week but opted to return to fundamentals and have a few camp-style practices before turning their attention to the Huskies and the Orange Bowl.

"Great day to practice, beautiful day, perfect weather, probably perfect practice weather," said Fisher, who's team practiced on a sunny 68-degree afternoon in December. "Just hot enough, just cold enough to move around and have a good day, I thought we did, first day of true preparation, we looked at what they're doing.

"I'm very pleased with the attitudes, everybody's working having fun, did what they had to do. Very efficient day."

Of course the elephant in the room was the decision-making process in regard to new coaching hires and the transition of old coaches to their new jobs.

Sal Sunseri has not been confirmed yet to be on the Seminole staff, but all indiciations are that he will be joining up as a defensive assistant. In what has become potentially Tallahassee's worst-kept secret, Sunseri was out with the 'Noles in a gold Florida State shirt yesterday.

Also, rumored-DC Jeremy Pruitt has already reached out to a couple of players to touch base. Lamarcus Joyner said he had received a phone call from the new defensive coordinator, he remarked that they spoke for a few minutes and had a good conversation.

Right now Florida State cannot comment because they are still in the process of making these hires.

Other Notes:

-Speaking of Joyner, coach Fisher called him out by name as one of the players who was helping to fill the void left by departing coaches. This is not surprising, last season one needed only to find Lamarcus Joyner on the sideline to find coach Mark Stoops and vice versa. Every timeout and between every possession the two could be seen strategizing. Stoops made no secret that he sees shades of former Hurricane Ed Reed in Joyner and in much the same way Reed did at Miami, Joyner has become the emotional leader of the secondary.

-Brandon Kay's case may not help Chris Thompson that much due to the fact Thompson was three plays over the minimum during one of his injury years and the NCAA would need to make a special exception for him. 

-Jimbo Fisher alluded to possibly using more two tight end/h-back style sets once Lonnie Pryor moves on. Pryor is one of the top fullbacks in the country, he blocks well and is an above-average runner who is a weapon in the redzone. A lot of comparisons have been made between him and Jacob Hester, next year with his departure though, Fisher admitted the offense might look a bit different.

"That's what I've always done, that's more what I'd done when I was at LSU," said Fisher. "WIth the big two tight end guys, guys you can use as an H-Back back in the backfield. But Chad Abrams is a hell of a player too."

-Finally, NIU practiced with extra crowd noise over the weekend to prepare for the potentially hostile crowd at the Orange Bowl. While the neccesity of the move is highly questionable, fair play to the Huskies for pulling out all the stops.



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