March 7, 2013

4Q Drills: New coaching staff at work

Pender and McDainel back to full speed

Overall Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher couldn't be happier with the way his team has handled its business heading into spring practice this semester.

For the most part he said you can see a difference in every player that has returned form last year's ACC Championship team. He's also thrilled with the way a few guys have bounced back from injuries and down seasons a year ago, namely Mario Pender.

Fisher said the redshirt freshman running back is back to full speed and has bulked up to 195 pounds.

"Been very pleased with him," Fisher said. "His leg has been great, doing great in class, doing great in school… I mean he looks really good. Explosive, athletic, very pleased. His weight's up, good and strong, he's had a very good first half of this semester."

Pender, who missed all of last season with a groin injury, brings a dynamic to the running back segment that physical juniors Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. lack.

"He's probably faster," Fisher said. "He's outright faster, a little more explosive. But those other two guys now, they're both pretty good players now. 8 and 32 can both tote that rock…

"But Pender is a very talented young man, who hopefully will keep that consistency and play with a lot of consistency. Because when he does, with his talent, he catches the ball, he can run, as I say he can hit homeruns and he's strong."

Another player coming off of injury who has caught Fisher's eye early this spring is redshirt senior defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel. The former five-star recruit sat all of the 2012 season as he recovered from a dislocated that cost most of the 2011 season as well.

Now in his fifth year in the program, McDaniel looked to have the explosiveness back that made him a star at Madison County High during fourth quarter drills.

"He's running pain free for the first time and finishing drills, going through whole workouts and conditioning is good," Fisher said. "He pulled a ham(string) early because he hasn't done anything in over a year, had to make sure he didn't over do it. But now you see his body, I think he's come along very well."

Junior offensive tackle Bobby Hart isn't coming off of an injury like McDaniel and Pender, but he didn't see the field much a season ago. After starting nine games as a true freshman, Hart played in just eight games last season with no starts.

With Menelik Watson going pro a year early, Fisher said that Hart is in the mix for the starting right tackle job heading into spring practice.

"I think Bobby Hart has had a good offseason," Fisher said. "(Bryan) Stork and those guys can do what they've got to do there. There's different guys you can put in there."

Injury Updates

As is the case every spring, a handful of Seminoles will be out for the spring after having minor surgeries to get things cleaned up heading into the fall.

Defensive backs Tyler Hunter (knee), Nick Waisome and Ronald Darby (sports hernia) are all out for the entire spring. Cornerback Keelin Smith was limited during condition drills but will be ready this spring.

Defensive tackle Demonte McAllister will miss the entire spring after a minor shoulder surgery, as will offensive lineman Jacob Fahrenkrug with a similar injury.

Offensive lineman Bryan Stork, Josue Matias and Tre Jackson were limited during drills Thursday, but Fisher says all three will be fine once practice begins. Fisher also said that quarterback Jacob Coker, currently in a walking boot with a swollen foot, will not miss a single practice.

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