Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

FSU in Transition: Fisher Anxious to Get Started

A couple of weeks ago FSU Head Coach Jimbo Fisher said he feels like he’s stocked “three NFL teams with guys off our squads” in the last few years. While he’s allowed a bit of hyperbole, he’s not far off. The Seminoles have consistently been a top feeder school for the NFL draft since Fisher took over the program in 2010.

This year is a bit different for Fisher, the quarterback position called, “wide open” after the departure of Jameis Winston. While Redshirt Junior Sean Maguire seems to be the favorite, Fisher was complimentary of First Coast’s DeAndre Johnson as a freshman. “He has a chance to be a good player,” Fisher noted when asked about the 2014 Mr. Football. “He has a knack for doing the right thing in the gray areas. He makes good decisions.”

I asked Jimbo if it was going to be different with a new quarterback after two years. “We’ll approach it the same. Everybody wants to talk about the quarterback. We have a lot of leaders in Tallahassee. On those teams Jameis was a leader but so was Telvin Smith. He’s as good a leader as I’ve been around. LaMarcus Joyner was a leader. Timmy Jernigan was dynamic. We had so many dynamic leaders left from that 2013 team. DeVonta Freeman was a leader.”

Since he mentioned Telvin Smith, I followed up by asking the head Seminole if he was surprised by Smith’s smooth transition to professional football. He got to see him play as well as practice and never wavered in his belief in Smith. “I always look for the guys who are on the bottom of the pile. Not the guys standing around the pile. Telvin was always on the bottom. He loves to play ball. He might be the most underrated football player in the history of Florida State. Bar none.” Pretty high praise, but perhaps deserved as Smith, called ‘too small’ by most scouts coming out of Tallahassee (same thing out of high school for that matter) had 99 tackles in his rookie year and was hard to bring off the field.

Just a week away from the Garnet and Gold game, Fisher says it was pretty typical of a spring workout. “Some high spots, some low ones. Some frustrating spots. But I’m anxious to coach this team. I still think we’re an extremely talented football team. We’re young. The way we approach this is the same way. What we have to understand is that each team takes its own identity. We have to play to those strengths.”

Jimbo has taken his team to the National Championship game and to the “Final Four” in back-to-back years. He likes playing for a title, but doesn’t want to sacrifice the bowls because of it. “I want the bowls to mean something. We won two titles and play in five title games in that 14 year run of bowl games. But when we weren’t in it a Sugar Bowl meant something. A Fiesta Bowl meant something. I don’t want that to go away.”

By the way, because of the bad weather, Fisher drove over from Tallahassee to speak to the Seminole faithful at San Jose Country Club. Normally he’d take a quick flight over but planes were grounded because of the conditions. “Too nasty.”

Fisher also mentioned that he hoped Tim Tebow got a fair shot in Philadelphia. “I know him from the recruiting process. You have to get it out of your system. With Chip and the different things he does, it’ll be interesting to see how he does.”

And as the head football coach, he knows how things have changed in college football in the last 20 years. To emphasis his point Fisher brought up an interesting fact: Jameis Winston is leaving school for the NFL at the same time Charlie Ward became a starter in his college career. “How about that?” he questioned out loud. “Think about that statement. That dynamic of ball is gone. Guys want to play. If they’re not playing, they want to leave.”