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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- At SEC media days last summer, someone asked Alabama head coach Nick Saban if he wears any of his four national championship rings.

"To me, it doesn't make any difference how many game-winning shots Michael Jordan made," Saban said. "The only one that matters is the next one. So there doesn't seem to be any purpose to me. I have them. They're there."

You put that championship in a velvet-lined box and store it in your closet. It has no effect on the future.

Florida State, which plays its Garnet and Gold Game on Saturday, will start next season as No. 1, just as the Seminoles ended last season. The Seminoles have 14 returning starters from the team that won the BCS National Championship three months ago. That includes the best player in the country, quarterback Jameis Winston, and the best defensive lineman in the country, end Mario Edwards Jr., and other talented players too numerous to mention.

Florida State must carry the expectations of a fan base and a college football nation that expects them to improve upon a perfect 14-0 record. That it is possible -- with the two-round playoff, the Seminoles could be the first team in modern history to go 15-0 -- doesn't make it any less daunting.

Jimbo Fisher is a graduate and espouser of the Nick Saban Institute of The Process. Fisher coached for Saban for seven seasons at LSU. The tenets that Saban preaches in the meeting room at Alabama -- smart choices and personal development, focus and discipline -- are heard from the pulpit at Florida State, too.

It would be only natural to assume that Fisher would consult the Sabanic Verses on the subject of following a national championship season. Not only has Alabama done so in three of the past four years, but LSU, with Saban as head coach and Fisher as his offensive coordinator, did so a decade ago.

Fisher knows what Saban believes. He coached it at LSU. And that's what convinced him that it's wrong.

"One of the things I wish we had done better then," Fisher said in his office recently, "was actually remember we were national champions. We were so focused to me on, 'Forget that. Don't get big-headed. Don't do that,' that I think you lost the aura and the confidence of winning the championship."



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ACC's lunchtime links

April, 11, 2014
Apr 11
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Enjoy the weekend, gang.
Word travels fast within the small Seminole Tribe of Florida, branching from the Everglades up through the peninsula and navigating around Florida’s Big Bend. It’s a culture built upon the spoken word, and this year the name Justin Motlow is on the minds and mouths of many tribe members, circulating through the half-dozen reservations.

The tribe is eager to get a glimpse of Motlow. On June 13, he will enroll at Florida State. And when he dons the Seminole logo for his first football practice as a preferred walk-on wide receiver, it will double as an homage to his ancestors, he says. Since Florida State adopted the Seminoles nickname 67 years ago, no known Seminole Tribe of Florida member has played football for the school. Motlow will change that in two months.

[+] EnlargeJustin Motlow
Courtesy of Motlow familyWhen he begins practice this summer, walk-on wide receiver Justin Motlow will be the first member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida to play football for Florida State.
“It’s always been missing, an actual tribe member playing on the Florida State Seminoles,” said Kyle Doney, a tribe member and a liaison between Florida State and the tribe on the Florida State alumni association national board of directors. “There’s a lot of hope and excitement from tribe members all across.”

Motlow, a 5-foot-11, 182-pound receiver who attends Tampa (Fla.) Catholic High School, is one-quarter Seminole. His paternal grandmother is a 100 percent Seminole and is a resident on the Immokalee Reservation. Clarence, Justin's father, was raised on the reservation and fondly remembers his childhood. Growing up, Clarence hunted alligators -- “some by hand,” he said -- and sold the hides to tourists for a dollar. His grandfather practiced medicine on the reservation, and Clarence still abides by Seminole tradition in keeping secret the tribe’s sacred medicine practices.

Clarence calls his son an “urban Seminole,” but Motlow and his sister remain immersed in Seminole culture, as the family attends several tribal events annually. Motlow participates in tribal holidays and gatherings, playing skillet toss and working on his archery. In July 2011, he won gold medals in his age bracket in the 200- and 400-meter dashes at the North American Indigenous Games.

“I feel very honored to be able to call myself a tribal member,” Motlow said. “There’s a lot of heritage and history that goes along with that.”

There is a long history between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Florida State, whose students voted for the Seminoles nickname in 1947. For the past few decades, the relationship between Florida State and the Seminole Tribe of Florida has mostly avoided the negativity that engulfed several other institutions depicting Native Americans as mascots, which makes Motlow’s impending enrollment even more intriguing. Both the school and tribe publicize the harmonious relationship, and the tribe’s written endorsement of Florida State’s use of the Seminole name and logo persuaded the NCAA in 2005 to remove the school from the list of universities deemed to have “hostile or abusive” mascots.

“[The tribe is] quite proud and happy for him, but they’re also happy he’s getting an education,” Seminole Tribe of Florida spokesman Gary Bitner said. “Word travels fast. [The tribe] feels like it’s another positive point in the relationship between the university and the tribe. ... There is a great sense of pride in the name, and they feel like Florida State has really done it right.”

There was a point just a few weeks before signing day on Feb. 5, however, when it seemed Motlow would not be in this position. He already had made peace with the idea that he wouldn’t play for childhood favorite Florida State, and wasn't sure he would get a chance to play Division I football. He heard from a few Division II and III schools -- programs so obscure he can’t remember the names -- but even that interest was waning. He suffered a setback before his senior football season started when, on the second day of spring practice, he separated his shoulder. Motlow and his doctors did their best to avoid surgery, but it cost Motlow the entire spring evaluation period and summer camp circuit, pivotal recruiting steps before a prospect’s senior season.

With his prospects diminishing, Motlow's father still believed his son could be a contributor on a Division I roster. Clarence Motlow enlisted the help of a friend he knew Florida State would not turn away. Barry Smith, a former Florida State receiver and a member of the Seminoles’ 1979 Hall of Fame class, passed Motlow’s tape to Seminoles receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey, who after watching it showed it to head coach Jimbo Fisher. Justin Motlow had an offer as preferred walk-on not long afterward, and he committed in late January.

Now he’s a celebrity to the 3,963 members of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Clarence Motlow has been inundated with calls, texts and emails from tribe officials wanting to see his son play, even offering to fly the family to Tallahassee in the tribe’s jet. The entire community is behind Motlow’s football pursuits, happy he will be the flag bearer for the Seminole Tribe of Florida as it breaks new ground this fall.

“That’s true history. It feels really cool to be recognized,” Justin Motlow said, “but now it drives me even more to succeed because I can’t let my tribe down.”
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In a conversation with ESPN's Cary Chow, national recruiting reporter Gerry Hamilton breaks down the recruiting momentum built by Florida State and the most important prospects from Florida.
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- No position on the Florida State roster has taken as many losses as the defensive line over the past two seasons.

Four linemen were drafted a year ago. Another, tackle Timmy Jernigan, is projected to become the second straight Florida State defensive lineman to be drafted in the first round. The last time Florida State had at least five defensive linemen selected in consecutive drafts was 1998-99.

At many programs, losing so many players would be a major cause for concern and, as you'd expect, the defensive line has drawn some of the biggest questions this spring and last. FSU coach Jimbo Fisher, however, looks at the situation differently.

Rather than lament potential depth issues, Fisher looks at the pure talent he has available for this upcoming season -- and the versatility they provide. Though only three scholarship defensive ends were available during the spring, two of them were consensus top-10 players at their position out of high school -- Mario Edwards Jr. and Chris Casher.

[+] EnlargeEddie Goldman
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsFlorida State coaches are expecting junior Eddie Goldman to flourish as Timmy Jernigan's replacement at defensive tackle.
Both began learning every position along the line in order to take advantage of their athleticism. Edwards moved around some last season, but expects to do much more of that in 2014, not only to help with depth but to also give Florida State key matchup advantages.

“It’s kind of fun,” Edwards said. “The offense can’t pinpoint where I will be -- right or left side, inside or out. I feel I can go and play any one of the positions the coaches put me in at and be a factor.”

For Edwards, the process of not only becoming a master at his own position, but also learning several others, has meant more time studying the playbook and game tape. That has allowed the former No. 1 high school player in the country to feel even more comfortable with the defense.

The road has not necessarily been smooth for him. He was out of shape as a freshman, and last spring he had to learn an entirely new defensive scheme while following a strict diet and weight program. Edwards ended up starting, but he did not feel comfortable until midway through the season. That is when the results started to show.

Now that more of the pressure is on him to perform, Edwards says he is ready to dominate.

“I’d like to think this is a big year for me,” Edwards said. “I watched film of last year but not only was I looking at the good things I did, I looked at how many plays I left out there, just because I wasn’t aligned right, I wasn’t doing my job, I may have forgotten what I was supposed to do. I felt like I left tons of plays out there I could have made. This year, it’s reacting more than thinking.”

To help at end, Florida State might end up using linebackers Matthew Thomas and Ukeme Eligwe, whom Fisher called “dynamic rushers.” He did something similar with Christian Jones a year ago, and Jones thrived in that role.

Tackle Eddie Goldman, slated to replace Jernigan inside, was a five-star defensive tackle out of high school. Fisher said Goldman will end up being one of the team’s spring award winners because he has made such drastic improvement. Though not as powerful as Jernigan, Goldman is more athletic and a more natural pass rusher.

“Him and Mario -- it’s hard to handle them one-on-one,” Fisher said. “Eddie, his upside is ridiculous. It’s ridiculous how good he can be.”

Will he meet that potential this year?

“The way he’s playing right now? No doubt,” Fisher said.

Fisher also will play some of his true freshmen, the way he has done with guys such as Edwards, Jernigan and Casher. The Seminoles loaded up on the defensive line to make up for the heavy losses they have taken recently. Four of the seven players Florida State signed were rated four-star prospects out of high school. Two incoming ends -- Lorenzo Featherston and Rick Leonard -- are both 6-foot-7. They will not be tied exclusively to end, either.

“We like that hybrid guy, the versatility,” Fisher said. “You can go 3-4, 4-3, and create a matchup where they get locked on a back, where a back has to block them, that kind of stuff.”

Florida State took advantage of the versatility it had last season to great success. Despite more personnel losses, Fisher expects more of the same in 2014.
video

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- At SEC media days last summer, someone asked Alabama head coach Nick Saban if he wears any of his four national championship rings.

"To me, it doesn't make any difference how many game-winning shots Michael Jordan made," Saban said. "The only one that matters is the next one. So there doesn't seem to be any purpose to me. I have them. They're there."

You put that championship in a velvet-lined box and store it in your closet. It has no effect on the future.

Florida State, which plays its Garnet and Gold Game on Saturday, will start next season as No. 1, just as the Seminoles ended last season. The Seminoles have 14 returning starters from the team that won the BCS National Championship three months ago. That includes the best player in the country, quarterback Jameis Winston, and the best defensive lineman in the country, end Mario Edwards Jr., and other talented players too numerous to mention.

Florida State must carry the expectations of a fan base and a college football nation that expects them to improve upon a perfect 14-0 record. That it is possible -- with the two-round playoff, the Seminoles could be the first team in modern history to go 15-0 -- doesn't make it any less daunting.

Jimbo Fisher is a graduate and espouser of the Nick Saban Institute of The Process. Fisher coached for Saban for seven seasons at LSU. The tenets that Saban preaches in the meeting room at Alabama -- smart choices and personal development, focus and discipline -- are heard from the pulpit at Florida State, too.


(Read full post)


ACC spring games preview

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
2:00
PM ET
Seven ACC teams will play their spring games this weekend, and eight will officially close spring practices in the coming days, as Pitt has opted to have a more fan-friendly event instead of an actual spring game on Sunday before closing practice on Tuesday.

For all of these teams -- including Florida State -- the quarterbacks will be among the most-watched players on the field. In Tallahassee, fans will get a chance to see the Heisman Trophy winner, returning starter Jameis Winston. At every other school, there is an ongoing storyline and competition with the quarterbacks. We’re giving you one additional thing to keep an eye on that might not be so obvious.

Check it out, and enjoy the games this weekend!

CLEMSON

When: 4 p.m. on Saturday (ESPNU) and on WatchESPN

Where: Death Valley

One thing to watch: The true freshman wide receivers. Artavis Scott, Demarre Kitt and Kyrin Priester were all highly touted recruits who enrolled early to help Clemson try to replace Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant (a combined 2,292 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns in 2013).

FLORIDA STATE

When: 3 p.m. on Saturday (ESPN) and on WatchESPN

Where: Doak Campbell Stadium

One thing to watch: The wide receivers. They haven’t exactly earned high praise from coach Jimbo Fisher, who called the receivers out last week for not getting open and making catches. Rashad Greene is the most experienced option as the Noles try to replace Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw, but the staff also needs to see more from players like Bobo Wilson and Kermit Whitfield.

LOUISVILLE

When: 7:30 p.m. on Friday

Where: Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium

One thing to watch: The safeties. Louisville lost Hakeem Smith, who started 51 straight games, and projected first-round draft pick Calvin Pryor. Jermaine Reve, Gerod Holliman and Chucky Williams are the leading candidates for those spots, but Reve is out for the spring with an injury. Reve and Holliman are the only players with game experience.

MIAMI

When: 6 p.m. on Saturday (ESPN3)

Where: Sun Life Stadium

One thing to watch: Defense, defense, defense. It’s been an area of concern, but the defense showed signs of progress this spring. The Canes return eight starters and 16 players from the two-deep depth chart. Denzel Perryman is now playing middle linebacker, and Dallas Crawford moved to safety to give that position a boost. Those within the program have said repeatedly that the defense has made strides since last season, and overall it was a good spring for the defense. We’ll see if they can punctuate it in the spring game.

NORTH CAROLINA

When: 3 p.m. on Saturday (ESPN3)

Where: Kenan Stadium

One thing to watch: True freshman running back Elijah Hood. The four-star recruit was rated the nation's No. 9 running back in the Class of 2014 by ESPN.com and No. 80 overall in the ESPN 300. The early enrollee has had such a good spring that he could see some immediate playing time, even though the Tar Heels are deep at the position.

NC STATE

When: 1 p.m. on Saturday

Where: Carter-Finley Stadium

One thing to watch: More young wide receivers. NC State has to replace Quintin Payton and Rashard Smith, both starters from last year. The talent pool to choose from includes a host of sophomores and freshmen, including two early enrollees. The leading sophomore candidates are: Jumichael Ramos, who finished the last three games of 2013 strong; Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who led the team in receiving at one point last year as a true freshman; and Bra'lon Cherry, who suffered a season-ending injury against Duke. Freshmen Bo Hines and Stephen Louis enrolled early, and redshirt freshman Gavin Locklear is also in the mix.

VIRGINIA

When: 1 p.m. on Saturday

Where: Scott Stadium

One thing to watch: Improved wide receivers. This is a group coach Mike London has praised this spring, for both its height and athleticism, as the staff has moved toward a longer, leaner look. London recently singled out Miles Gooch, Keeon Johnson and Kyle Dockins -- all listed at 6-foot-3 -- as players who have excelled this spring. Unfortunately, fans won’t be able to see starter Jake McGee, the Hoos’ star tight end who moved to receiver this spring, as he’ll be sidelined with a hamstring injury.

PITT (No spring game)

When: From 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, Pitt will host its “Pitt Football Field Pass”

Where: The UPMC Sports Performance Complex

One thing to watch: Instead of a game, Pitt will hold a public event that will include a kids’ clinic, an offensive strategy session with coordinator Joe Rudolph, a defensive strategy session with coordinator Matt House, a recruiting session with coordinator Dann Kabala and a strength and conditioning session with assistant coach Ross Kolodziej.

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
12:00
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Thoughts with all those affected Wednesday in Pittsburgh.
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Year in and year out, the “big three” Florida schools always battle for the top in-state high school prospects. Last year was one of the wildest in recent memory for Florida, Florida State and Miami.

The Gators were able to land commitments from three prospects -- Ryan Sousa, C.J. Worton and J.C. Jackson -- who were previously committed to Florida State. The Noles responded by flipping Florida commitments Ermon Lane and Dalvin Cook. Miami was able to flip former FSU running back commit Joseph Yearby and Florida defensive tackle commit Anthony Moten. The Gators then flipped athlete Brandon Powell the day he was supposed to enroll at Miami.


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Video: FSU spring game preview

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
9:00
AM ET
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ACC reporter Andrea Adelson and Florida State reporter Jared Shanker preview the Florida State spring game, set for Saturday.

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 9, 2014
Apr 9
12:00
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What a year for UConn hoops.

High school to honor Jameis Winston

April, 9, 2014
Apr 9
11:10
AM ET
[+] EnlargeJameis Winston
AP Photo/David J. PhillipFSU quarterback Jameis Winston will have his No. 8 jersey retired by Hueytown (Ala.) High School this summer.

Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston, less than two years removed from finishing his senior year, will have his No. 8 jersey retired by Hueytown (Ala.) High School this summer, according to a report.

Winston graduated in 2012, red-shirted at FSU that fall and has since led the Seminoles to the national championship while winning the Heisman Trophy.

Hueytown coach Mark Stephens told AL.com that the school would retire Winston's jersey this summer so there would be no conflicts with his football or baseball schedules at FSU. Winston also is a pitcher and an outfielder for the Seminoles.

"Him playing football and baseball makes it tough," Stephens said. "I spoke with that gentleman a little over a month ago and he said that Jameis has had one weekend off since football started last fall. But we're going to get it done."


(Read full post)


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Projected Preseason AP Top 25 ESPN Insider Phil Steele joins Toni Collins to discuss his take on what he thinks the AP Preseason Top 25 will look like for the 2014 college football season.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Fifth-year senior Cameron Erving walked off the practice field Saturday after one of the most interesting practices of his career. For those attending the afternoon practice, it was a bizarre sight watching Erving orchestrate the offensive line considering Florida State’s All-ACC left tackle is still only in his third year playing the position, and not once in his life had he previously snapped the ball. Erving, a potential first-round pick in 2015, would be the NFL’s tallest starting center at 6-foot-6.

[+] EnlargeJimbo Fisher
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsJimbo Fisher moves players to other positions in part to make them better.
The odds that Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher would move his best offensive lineman out of one of football’s premium positions to play center are slim. It is the spring, and nearly the end of it, and Fisher said he is prepping for a worst-case scenario in which injuries force him to reshuffle his offensive line, which returns five players with starting experience.

"Center is like quarterback,” Fisher said. “You can move guards, tackles, receivers. Centers and quarterbacks, that's a learned profession and you have to have as many as you can. … We’re just doing things to develop backups and get other guys snaps.”

Through the spring, Fisher has mixed and matched his offensive line so his five starters have at least an elementary knowledge of playing more than one position on the line. It’s not limited to just the maulers up front either, as Fisher routinely cross-trains his linebackers and defensive backs.

Jalen Ramsey could play three positions in the secondary this fall. The same goes for defensive back Nate Andrews. Several Seminoles linebackers are receiving work at multiple positions.

Cross-training his players is not simply Fisher guarding against a series of injuries that would cause him to revamp his offensive line or back seven on defense. Fisher contends it makes a player better at his starting position. The constant formation and personnel changes opponents present necessitates a comprehensive awareness of the entire unit.

Redshirt sophomore Ukeme Eligwe is campaigning for a starting position this spring. He played in 13 games last season, mostly out of position at outside linebacker. A natural inside linebacker, he was uncomfortable and out of his element flanked to either side of the defense. But this spring he is once again playing inside linebacker and is doing so with a better appreciation and understanding of playing in the middle.

“Whatever the call is I know exactly what the outside man is doing and that makes it easier for me to know ‘I don’t have to go over here because he has the flats, and I can drop,’ so I’m glad I moved to the outside last year,” Eligwe said. “Now it’s a little easier. I know the defense a lot more.”

The 15 practices permitted during the spring are the optimal time for Fisher to explore. Coaches have a limited amount of hours of on-field practice time during the fall. Fisher said the hope is he can build a strong enough base in the spring that if and when a player is called upon in a meaningful situation, he can reach back into his library to bring forth the information he filed away five months earlier.

“It’s demanding on them because they have to learn quickly in a short amount of time, but in the long run it’s going to help. Right now you got to cram as much information as you can,” Fisher said. “If you’re familiar with something, it makes it easy to learn it once the package comes out.”

It would be na´ve to believe Fisher is not cramming that same information for his own use. He is interested to see how Ramsey works at nickelback or how Erving responds at center and whether it might give Florida State the best chance to win. The spring is meant for tinkering, but it also gives Fisher an opportunity to appraise his roster and formulate a way to get the best 11 players on the field.

“You don’t know a guy can do this [at a different position] and you can mix and match to get the best personnel on the field in different packages,” Fisher said. “… You’re always looking for that.”

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8
12:00
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First prediction I've gotten right all tourney.

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Scene and Heard: Top 10 Predictions
In a conversation with ESPN's Antonietta Collins, national recruiting reporter Gerry Hamilton breaks down the recruiting momentum building at Auburn and offers predictions for where the top 10 recruits will commit.Tags: Trenton Thompson, Kerryon Johnson, Jeffery Holland, Martez Ivey, Torrance Gibson, Cece Jefferson, ESPN 300, RecruitingNation, high school football recruiting, Gerry Hamilton
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