The effort and determination shown by the Seminole football team over the past couple months during voluntary workouts has been outstanding. The players turned out in record numbers for both the weight lifting sessions and the afternoon workouts on the practice fields.
Warchant.com and/or Osceola has been present for all of the voluntary workouts and recognizes the following players for their achievements:
Top Newcomer - Jae Thaxton
Thaxton arrived with big accolades out of Hart County HS in Georgia and so far he looks as good as advertised. From day one when he stepped foot on campus he was in great shape, he looks physically ready to play college ball and has done exceptionally well in the passing drills. Since he arrived he has been to pretty much every workout. This season he will lineup at middle (Mike) linebacker behind Sam McGrew and Buster Davis. Also Nominated: Drew Weatherford, Xavier Lee and Lawrence Timmons
Top Leader on Offense - Leon Washington
Whether it was leading the pack in conditioning sprints, encouraging his teammates to get through workout drills, staying late to help a freshman work on his assignments, or even playing quarterback when there was a shortage of arms, Leon Washington stepped up every time. It's hard to believe that he will only be a true junior this season because the former Florida Mr. Football has emerged as one of the unquestioned leaders of the offense. Washington enters preseason practice as the first string tailback. Also Nominated: David Castillo
Top Leader on Defense - Piquion, Johnson, Bunkley and J. Carter
There were so many leaders on defense this summer it was impossible to pick just one. With the graduation of all three starting linebackers senior Ray Piquion has really stepped up and is doing a great job bringing along all the young players in his unit. The defensive line should be in great shape this season with Brodrick Bunkley and Travis Johnson setting the pace. Both use humor and hard work to keep things real for their group. In the secondary Jerome Carter isn't the most vocal player on the field, but he sure knows how to lead by example because nobody works harder.
Top Conditioned Player on Offense - Lorenzo Booker
During the summer testing phase Lorenzo Booker showed that he is not only one of the strongest players on the team, but also one of the top athletes finishing in the top 10 in both the strength and performance index. On top of all that, the shifty tailback is one the most conditioned players on the team. He would typically complete the conditioning sprints while barely breaking a sweat. Booker will join Leon Washington this year to make a potent one-two punch at tailback.
Also Nominated: Chris Rix
Top Conditioned Player on Defense - Ernie Sims
Everybody knows about Ernie Sims' exploits on the football field, his incredible strength and his unmatched athleticism - he set a new FSU record in the performance index - but his conditioning is also second to none. The sophomore linebacker typically leads his group in conditioning sprints and finishes each drill by running a full all out sprint and often finishes 10 to 15 yards ahead of the next closest player.
Also Nominated: Antonio Cromartie
Most improved Player on Offense - Cory Niblock
Last year at this time only the most avid Seminole fan knew much about offensive lineman Cory Niblock. He has been hiding under the radar since he signed in 2002 but came out of nowhere this summer and has made remarkable strides improving his strength. He also finished in the top 20 in the performance index and has shown himself to be one of the top conditioned offensive linemen. With Matt Heinz giving up football and Eric Broe taking a medical redshirt, Niblock will be counted on this season to provide depth at the guard spot.
Also Nominated: Paul Irons and B.J. Dean
Most Improved Player on Defense - Ray Piquion
With all the hype surrounding A.J. Nicholson and Ernie Sims a lot of people forget about Ray Piquion, who enters preseason practice as the starter at strong-side (Sam) linebacker. The senior from Miami is not giving up his starting job without a fight and to that end has done extremely well improving both his strength and conditioning over the summer.
Also Nominated: Gerard Ross and Kamerion Wimbley
Best Attitude / Humor - Clifton Dickson
Not a day went by this summer without defensive lineman Clifton Dickson getting his teammates to crack up over something he did. Sometimes it was as simple as a good joke, or an amusing prank on a teammate. He also led the charge when the defensive linemen took on the offensive linemen in a friendly game of touch football. He had his teammates in stitches when, after scoring the winning touchdown, he high-stepped and did a little dance.
Also Nominated: B.J. Dean and Travis Johnson
Purple Heart Award - Cro Thorpe
Just a little over a week into voluntary workouts wide receiver Craphonso Thorpe went step-for-step with his teammates in all the drills. That's pretty amazing for a guy that just six months earlier broke his leg in two places. By the end of the summer he looked like the same receiver that was on pace to lead the ACC in receiving last season. The reason for Thorpe's amazing recovery is the determination he showed with his rehabilitation.
Also Nominated: Willie Reid
Summer's Most Valuable Player (Based on effort, strength, athleticism, conditioning, attitude and leadership)
After two months of grueling workouts under the hot Florida sunshine one thing is obvious about the 2004 Seminole team - they are stronger, more conditioned and better athletes then they have been the past few years. However, one man stood above the rest - Ernie Sims. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound linebacker blew away the competition in performance testing with a 4.39 40-yard dash, a 39.5-inch vertical jump, a 3.95 second shuttle run and a 10.8" broad jump. When the dust settled he scored over 3,600 on the index, which is a new school record. On top of his amazing athleticism, Sims is in remarkable shape and showed real signs of leadership this summer. Instead of taking a break in the few weeks between the spring and summer semesters, the former prep All-American spent his free time training with Titus Sports Academy.
Also Nominated: Leon Washington
Note: As determined by the strength and performance index, Matt Meinrod is the strongest pound-for-pound player on the team and Ernie Sims is the top athlete.