ACC kickoff will feel familiar for FSU

July, 21, 2012
7/21/12
3:20
PM ET
The hype has been building for months, but on Sunday, the circus officially begins.

The ACC is holding its annual football kickoff event in Greensboro, N.C., and while it marks the start of a new season, it should feel awfully familiar for Florida State.

[+] EnlargeEJ Manuel
Melina Vastola/US PresswireFlorida State's EJ Manuel threw for 2,666 yards and 18 touchdowns last season.
Jimbo Fisher has been here before, answering the questions about his team's preseason standing as a contender for a national title. He knows the drill, burnishing the hope of a fan base while tempering expectations just long enough to remind those same fans that it's been a long time since FSU won a conference title, let alone a national championship.

The two players Fisher brings with him will know the territory, too. Brandon Jenkins and EJ Manuel were the Seminoles' player representatives last year as well.

Jenkins was fresh off an outstanding sophomore campaign, and he provided the template for a defense that would dominate. Manuel was taking over the reigns for NFL first-round pick Christian Ponder, but his leadership skills were already firmly established.

The fact that both are back this year is something of a reminder -- both that last year's hype far exceeded the reality of the season, and that this year represents a second chance.

"It's getting back to that time, and I'm anxious to see all the guys and the work they've put in this summer," Fisher said about getting the 2012 season started. "We can finally see them when practice starts, see what they've been doing and how they're doing and see the growth and development they've made."

This weekend is as much about anticipation as it is about substance.

It's been a long offseason, where conjecture and prognostication rules the day, and everyone from coaches to fans are given just a small springtime glimpse of what's to come.

And so a year ago, Manuel and Jenkins and Fisher sat before a cadre of reporters and cameras and talked ostensibly about their expectations, but ultimately about the expectations of an increasingly impatient fan base.

Then the season started, and the projections and promise gave way to injuries and disappointment.

Jenkins considered bolting for the NFL when it was over. Manuel's season suffered so much because of a shoulder injury that leaving early was never a consideration. Fisher simply went back to the task of adding more talent to an already impressive roster.

Now, on the precipice of another season, all three are back and this time they'll be prepared.

Not just for the inevitable questions about improved depth and big games against Clemson and Virginia Tech and the always reliable is-this-the-year inquiries.

Fisher, Jenkins and Manuel have those answers down pat.

But after last year's shortcomings, the second act for this trio of Seminoles won't come as a surprise. They've been through it before, and this weekend's media frenzy will only be the first set of questions they plan to answer.

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