March 20, 2012

Insider Report: Manuel ready for another spring

With a full 12 months of being Florida State's starting quarterback under his belt rising redshirt senior EJ Manuel is much more comfortable heading into this year's spring practices.

Despite seeing plenty of action in fall of his first two seasons at FSU, last spring was the first time the Virginia Beach, Va. native was healthy enough to participate in spring practice, so he was uncertain of what to expect during the three week period.

"I know last year at this time I woke up really nervous," Manuel said. "Sweating and all that kind of stuff, not knowing what to expect as a full time starter. Now it's just kind of going with the flow right now."

During his first full season as a starter Manuel completed 65.3 percent of his pass attempts for 2, 666 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Manuel finished the year passing for 249 yards and two touchdowns in an 18-14 win over Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl, and he did much of it with a broken bone in his leg. Manuel suffered a fractured fibula in his left leg during the game, but never left the game and is expected to participate fully this spring.

"The leg feels fine," he said. "Good enough to practice. As with any bone injury it's kind of just wait and see how it feels, but it feels good."

This spring Manuel said the biggest thing he wants to adjust to is developing some sort of continuity with his offensive line, which was a revolving door last season due to injuries.

"I think the biggest thing is just getting settled," he said. "With our line getting a lot better this year, and all the guys are healthy right now so just getting used to our starting line and just try to carry that over into the summer time."

Head coach Jimbo Fisher said that having a healthy offensive line will be a huge difference for his signal caller as he goes into his second season as the starter.

"I think being consistent around him is going to allow him to perform that much better," Fisher said. "Then he has to take the steps of reads and progressions, being able to get off on the third and fourth guys at times and get through those progressions and not be as antsy at times."

Manuel said he is hoping that his spring turns out to be as beneficial as last season was for him.

"I progressed a lot and (springs) the perfect time for the progression," Manuel said. "You don't have a game that Saturday, there's no rush, although you still want to get better each and every practice. You want to utilize these 14 practices to get better. Having last year and then having this year will be huge for me."

Just one year for Glauser

When junior college transfer Daniel Glauser signed with FSU he and the coaching staff were under the impression he had two years of eligibly left.

Fisher recently learned from the NCAA that he will in fact only have one year due to the fact that he played on a club team while still in Switzerland.

"He played with something in Switzerland and it had to do with age," Fisher said. "He played in a club, it's how he got recognized to play football. All I know is he has one year."

Fisher said the ruling is one that the school can and will appeal, but wasn't overly optimistic about their chances.

Still despite the fact that offensive line coach Rick Trickett only has one year to work with the offensive tackle, Fisher said he thinks that Glauser has the ability to earn a starting role at left tackle.

"I'm going to tell you he's got the ability," Fisher said. "He's big, athletic and boy can he run, he's powerful. He'll have a chance to really battle there."

Pender will have to carry the load

Much like fellow running back Devonta Freeman last year, Mario Pender is off to an accelerated start thanks to enrolling early and taking part in spring workouts and practice.

Pender will have a shot to shine during spring practice because of the current lack of depth at running back.

Freeman, a rising sophomore, is out for the spring with a lower back injury. Fellow sophomore James Wilder is out until the resolution of a legal issue.

Senior Chris Thompson, who broke his back during the Wake Forest game last fall, will be limited in practice and will wear a non-contact jersey.

"He's (Pender) going to get a ton of touches," Jimbo Fisher said. "I'm excited to see."

Fisher said the circumstances couldn't have been better for the true freshman this spring as he tries to earn a spot in the tailback rotation next fall.

"For him, it couldn't have scripted out any better to have the perfect opportunity to make an impact and jump out there," Fisher said. "And I've been pleased with the way he has."

Fisher hopes that the extra practices in the spring should pay dividends for Pender in the fall.

"He gets through this spring, by the time this fall comes, he's not overwhelmed," Jimbo Fisher said. "He can start, hopefully, making a contribution."

During his short time on campus Pender has already begun to impress his teammates.

"He's a hard worker, especially out there in fourth quarter. He's pretty quick," fullback Lonnie Pryor said. "I can't wait to see him go out there against the defense and see him run around."

Fisher has been excited to watch Pender mature and strengthen since his enrollment.

"You see the athleticism, he's put on about 12 pounds since he's been here. He's in the 190s now. Stronger, lifting, eating, doing everything and we're really anxious to see (it play out)."


  • Former defensive tackle Cameron Erving, who switched to the offensive line prior to fourth quarter drills, was working as the first team left tackle during the early portion of Monday's practice.

  • Future FSU defensive end and 2012 signee Mario Edwards was on hand for the first practice of the spring.

  • With starter Xavier Rhodes out for the spring with a knee injury, redshirt freshman defensive back Keelin Smith took first team reps at the boundary corner position during the early portion of Monday's practice.

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