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After switching positions last spring, sophomores Lamarcus Joyner and Telvin Smith both look to be key contributors to the Florida State defense in 2011.
While both are viewed as traditionally a bit undersized for their positions, head coach Jimbo Fisher see's them as a way to counter spread offenses.
Last season Joyner saw action in 14 games at corner, but now at safety, a position he starred at in high school for St. Thomas Aquinas, he has moved to the top of the depth chart.
"He's playing great," head coach Jimbo Fisher said on Wednesday. "Lamarucs Joyner is playing fabulous, loves to play. If we practiced out here for 12 hours he'd stay here for 12 hours and play. He's playing extremely well, I wish everybody had his attitude."
Joyner is a big fan of the move back to safety. He said that with the amount of teams running spread, spending a year at corner will only help him be a better safety.
"You're going to have a lot of four and five wide (sets), so you have to drop down and cover a lot," he said. "It's good to go a whole year at cornerback, to not lose the fundamentals and techniques. Now at safety and still getting reps at corner, you're going to have to cover those shifty slot guys and that's a great thing."
Smith moved from outside linebacker to middle linebacker in the spring. At the time many thought the move was just an attempt to build more depth and have Smith prepared to play multiple positions.
On Tuesday however, Fisher definitively said that smith is now a mike linebacker. Much like Joyner's move, Smith is in effort to combat pass-happy spread teams.
"When you get all these passing game teams and you play all this quarter stuff and all that, you know who the toughest guy to have coverage is? It's that mike linebacker he gets isolated in that box," Fisher said. "You better have an athlete that can cover ground, play the middle of the field, play twoTampa, get back, play one-on-one on the back when you're covering verticals. That mike linebacker has to be an athletic guy."
The former Valdosta Lowndes star said that he is more than fine with the move to the middle.
"I feel like the mike is a guy that can make a lot of plays and that's what Coach Jimbo brought me here for, to make plays," he said. "That's what I'm going to do. Come out here work hard, run around, bring energy to the team, and make plays."
While Joyner sits atop the depth chart at safety, Smith will have to battle with junior Vince Williams for the starting job in the middle.
"We are competing but at the same time we're working together competing," Smith said of the position battle. "It's not like he's holding information back. It's like 'Ok Telvin you can get better at this.'
Everybody wants to get on the field and compete, but at the same time we're a team and everybody wants to get the same thing, which is a national (championship)."
From grayshirt to second team
Just a few weeks ago freshman lineman Austin Barron was still unsure if he would he would be a Seminole in 2011. With FSU slightly over the 85-man scholarship limit, it appeared that Barron was headed for a grayshirt.
But after three players were medically disqualified, Barron was told to report to Tallahassee. The 6'3 295-pound lineman has been working as the second-team center.
"He's been doing a good job stepping in there and taking those reps," starting left tackle Andrew Datko said of Barron. He's just been listening to coach and everything he says he just does along with all the other freshman."
Barron wasn't a highly regarded prospect out of high school, Rivals rated him a two-star prospect at St. Thomas Aquinas. But former teammate Joyner said while he doesn't have a close relationship with Barron, he was always a very dependable player.
"From what I've seen he was a great kid and a talented kid that always got over looked by other bigger and stronger guys and recruits," Joyner said.
The Florida State coaching staff didn't overlook him though, and liked him from the moment they saw him on campus for the Jimbo Fisher camp last summer.
"Austin Barron is doing a really good job," Fisher said. "We liked him from the day he came to our camp last year. We thought he was going to be a good player."
Datko back to full strength
After playing through the pain last season, and missing all of the spring, left tackle Andrew Datko is back to full strength as training camp begins.
"It was fun just getting back out there," he said of his first practice back. "We didn't have pads, just helmets but running around getting that rust off and just fine tuning everything."
While the pain he felt in his shoulder last year would be unbearable for most, Datko just shrugged it off saying there hasn't been a huge difference for him since getting back to full strength.
"It was almost like a year since I wasn't hurt," he said. "It's actually been good, because when I was injured I wasn't like 'oh it's hurt, I can't use (my shoulder).' I was still using it, the extra added pain didn't really bother me."
Fisher said that through the first three practices you can tell that he and right tackle Zebrie Sanders are still getting back into the swing of things.
"He's getting in there. Him and 77 haven't played, you can tell it," Fisher said. "They're really good, where it's a big difference but you can tell they're getting back in the mold of it too. That's the first snaps they've taken, their bodies are adjusting, they haven't done anything since we played South Carolina when you think about it."
A weight lifted
While the attrition from the medical DQs allowed Barron to avoid a grayshirt, it also allowed longsanpper Dax Dellenbach to be put on scholarship.
After spending last season as a walk-on, Dellenbach said when special teams coordinator Eddie Gran gave him the news in his office it took a large weight off his shoulders.
"It was a relief on me and my family," he said. "I feel like I've had the chance to prove myself and finally felt able to be appreciated."
Dellenbach originally signed with Gran at Auburn, but decided to leave when he did. After sitting out a year he got in contact with Gran who only promised him the opportunity to compete for the starting job.
After winning the job, he said it's Gran's attention to detail that made him want to play for Gran a second time around.
"Just his work ethic and everything. He strives for perfection more than anyone I've ever seen," he said of his coach. "He just goes on and on, some people may think he's crazy, but it's just his work ethic that's how it is."
Running back Chris Thompson was held out for the second day in a row for precautionary reasons stemming from his spring back injury.
Jermaine Thomas (migraines) returned to practice but was non-contact only.
Former world champion Roy Jones Jr. was at practice on Wednesday. Former FSU quarterback Kelley Lowrey was also on hand.
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