TB Lorenzo Booker (PHOTO CREDIT - Florida State Sports Information)

2003 Statistics

Coach: Bobby Bowden
269-67-4, 28 years
2003 Record: 10-3
at North Carolina WON 37-0
at Duke WON 56-7
at Virginia WON 19-14
at Notre Dame WON 37-0
at Clemson LOST 10-26
at Florida WON 38-34
Miami FL LOST 14-16

2003 Final Rankings
AP-11, Coaches-10, BCS-7

2004 Outlook

A few of the earliest projections have FSU as a Top 5 team. That may be a stretch in reality, but on paper the Seminoles are primed to defend their ACC title, even in this newly reformed version. In essence, nothing has changed when dissecting the 2004 warpath. FSU avoids a shot at having to play Virginia Tech, which ultimately puts the Labor Day season opener with Miami on another pedestal. Most of the spoiled Seminole faithful have finally started to accept a lesser role on a national landscape, a change that was bound to happen with scholarship reductions forcing more parity. However, contrary to popular belief, the ACC really never caught up with FSU as the vice-versa scenario holds more firewater, for FSU caught up with (or came down to) the ACC.

Coming off their national championship loss to Oklahoma in '00, Bobby Bowden found himself operating with a new youth movement, starting with his first freshman starter at QB and a new assembly of coaches. The next two seasons reflected uncharacteristic finishes out of the Top 5. But in 2003, FSU again was there and knocked on the door. In 2004, as many prognosticators have been pointing out, they may just kick it in. A conference primed to be one of the best nationally (for certain, the best in the league history) will surely test their will. The attitude to "just show up and that is good enough in most cases" will not get the job done anymore. Enough seniors exist on this team (a situation FSU has been short on) to resolve many of these recent woes. This defense should continue the trends toward improvement. If the OL can meet the expectations while developing a major threat in the running department, Rix and company will make another ACC title run. On paper, maybe even a national title run.

Projected 2004 record: 9-2
LB Ernie Sims (PHOTO CREDIT - Florida State Sports Information)
QB - 3.5 DL - 3.5
RB - 4.5 LB - 4
WR - 4.5 DB - 4
OL - 5 ..

Passing: Chris Rix, 382-216-13, 3107 yds., 23 TD

Rushing: Leon Washington, 74 att., 387 yds., 1 TD

Receiving: Craphonso Thorpe, 51 rec., 994 yds., 11 TD

Scoring: Xavier Beitia, 19-25 FG, 50-51 PAT, 107 pts.

Punting: Chris Hall, 3 punts, 49.3 avg.

Kicking: Xavier Beitia, 19-25 FG, 50-51 PAT, 48 long

Tackles: B.J. Ward, 80 tot., 40 solo, 3 TFL

Sacks: Eric Moore, 7.5 sacks

Interceptions: LeRoy Smith, 3 for 122 yds. Pat Watkins, 3 for (-8) yds.

Kickoff Returns: Antonio Cromartie, 24 ret., 27.3 avg.

Punt Returns: Leon Washington, 16 ret., 11.8 avg., 1 TD


WR Craphonso Thorpe (PHOTO CREDIT - Florida State Sports Information)

The Florida State football team concluded four weeks of spring practice with the annual garnet and gold game at Gene Cox Stadium Saturday, April 3. Senior rover Jerome Carter had the play of the day when he returned a deflected pass 88 yards for a touchdown. The only other score came on a 23-yard pass from Chris Rix to Lorne Sam. Sophomore tailback Lorenzo Booker led all rushers with 53 yards on six carries and also had two catches for 22 yards. William Rutledge was next on the rushing list with two carries for 12 yards. Tight end Paul Irons had the longest reception of the day, a 26-yard pass from Rix. Linebacker Ray Piquion led all tacklers with five, including two for loss and a sack. Cornerback Bryant McFadden had three tackles and an interception and Leroy Smith had a tackle and a pair of pass break-ups. Defensive end Chauncey Davis recorded two sacks while Chris Bradwell, Clifton Dickson, Alex Boston and Kamerion Wimbley had one sack apiece. The Seminoles held a kicking scrimmage prior to the spring game as senior Xavier Beitia went 5-for-5 (37, 37, 42, 47, 47). Chase Goggans went 2-for-4, connecting from 42 and 47 yards out and missing on kicks of 37 and 42 yards. At halftime, three Seminoles were honored for the performances during spring practice. Rix was named offensive MVP and Ernie Sims was named defensive MVP. A.J. Nicholson won the Hinesman Award, given to the most dominant player of the spring.


C. Rix, 14-5-1, 77 yds., 1 TD
W. Sexton, 14-5-1, 33 yds.


L. Booker, 6 att., 53 yds.


L. Booker, 2 rec., 22 yds.
D. Robinson, 2 rec., 15 yds.


R. Piquion, 5 tot., 2 TFL
B. McFadden, 3 tot., 1 int.

Ch. Davis - 2 sacks

OFFENSE: Greg Jones-TB, P.K. Sam-WR (NFL)
DEFENSE: Kevin Emanuel-DE, Darnell Dockett-DT, Jeff Womble-NG, Michael Boulware-SLB, Allen Augustin-MLB, Kendyll Pope-WLB, Stanford Samuels-CB, Rufus Brown-CB, Jesse Stein-P
Senior Chris Rix will now be entering his fifth season in a garnet and gold uniform (Bobby Bowden's first ever four-year starter). The time has come for Rix to become more than a QB whose trademark use for coaches is "playing not to lose". The obvious cons have been consistency, reading defenses, avoiding the crucial turnover and playing smart…characteristics that have haunted him since day one. As Coach Bowden has been quoted as saying, "You take the good with the bad". Rix struggles versus tough opponents (such as Miami, he's 0-4 versus the Canes), but ironically manages to play his best versus in-state rival Florida (2-1 versus the Gators). There have been other times where Rix looks just awful ('03 Clemson loss). His mental focus and throwing mechanics tend to disappear which makes for horrendous turnovers at inopportune times.

The back-up scenario now rests with Wyatt Sexton (son of RB coach Billy Sexton) since Fabian Walker decided to transfer to Valdosta State. Some FSU coaches have stated that Sexton is the next great QB in Tallahassee. However, incoming freshman recruit Xavier Lee (the nation's #1 rated QB by Super Prep, broke all high school passing records in the state of Florida for career completions, yardage and TDs) is likely to be the early fan favorite when the discontented Rix boo-birds make their voice known.

Running Back
The only departing senior on the offensive side was bruiser Greg Jones at TB. But Jones had problems moving laterally. That won't be a problem with his incumbents. The new starter looks to be a combo of Leon Washington (Mr. Florida Football 2001) and Lorenzo Booker (former #1 ranked high school RB out of California). Washington has the speed, but brings a little more power and size to the table. Booker is the closest thing resembling Warrick Dunn and Travis Minor…he's the smaller scat back with amazing agility and quickness. If healthy, this may be one of the best set of TBs nationwide. Neither will rack up the lofty rushing totals, because they both are too talented and thus will split time, meaning fresh legs into the fourth.

The Noles rely on blockers and short-yardage specialists at the fullback spot…and of course, for lining up better field goal angles on first down. Like 2003, B.J. Dean and James Coleman share the same attributes as well as playing time, good blockers but below average runners.

Wide Receiver
Depth, speed, size, experience and talent…FSU has it all at the receiver spot. Forget that P.K. Sam left prematurely for the NFL. Leading the way is Craphonso Thorpe, a First Team All-ACC pick in 2003 even after breaking his leg late in the season. The medical word out of Tallahassee rehab - the ACC 100-meter champ is ahead of schedule and should be full-speed when August practice starts. FSU digs the long ball and Thorpe has a career stat of over 20-yard average per catch. Prep superstar Dominic Robinson is finally a senior. He has played both the CB spot and WR spot since arriving as a heralded freshman. He may be the most athletic of the bunch. Former JUCO All-American Chauncey Stovall is another important part of the mix. All three of the above-mentioned are seniors. But let's not forget about sensational sophomore Chris Davis. Two years removed from a torn-ACL, the former prep QB may be the most electric of the group. Another receiver, Willie Reid, is versatile enough to play the slot or carry the ball at TB, which he has done both. Any questions?

Offensive Line
The meat and potatoes lining up front in 2004 is the best group FSU has had since the national championship run of 2000. Every three to four years FSU appears to load the table with a group of this caliber. OT Alex Barron is the only offensive lineman returning from the AP First Team All-American list of 2003, quite an honor. His lofty status is only diminished by the fact Ray Willis, his partner at the other OT spot, is considered just as magnificent. Both will be three-year starters. Ron Lunford (350 pounds) will provide hefty backup service and has shown his athletic versatility by playing both the guard and tackle spots.

The guards are not as strong, and much of that has to do with ailments and injuries. Senior Bobby Meeks is the most gifted, but suffers from asthma and struggles to go full-speed on occasions. Eric Broe, a prep All-American who was sidelined much of 2003 with a knee injury, will push for playing time. Sophomore Matt Meinrod anchors the other side after garnering All-ACC Honorable Mention as a freshman. Another guard suffering from injury is Matt Heinz. Back problems leave his status as uncertain. If FSU has a weakness up front, depth on the inside would be that crutch.

If you are searching for a leader on offense, center David Castillo may be your man. A Second Team All-ACC pick, Castillo is full of grit. He spent much of 2003 playing through injury due to a lack of subs. Just when you thought there was no way Castillo could go on Saturday, he strapped on the helmet.

Tight End
Much like the fullback spot, the TE at FSU is primarily a blocker. Ironically, former fullback Paul Irons holds the starting spot. In his final year, hopes are that Irons can provide something more than just a blocker. If pass catching tends to be the fancy, look for former Tennessee High School QB standout Matt Henshaw to get more time on the field. We obviously recommend they try to do such to add an extra dimension for Rix to overthrow.

Locating a weakness on this side of the ball will be difficult. Essentially, the strengths start up front as five of the six starters on the OL will be seniors. To go even further, the only other unit that has a non-senior is in the backfield, as gifted underclassmen Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker assume the star role(s). However, the keys to this smooth-running, offensive machine ultimately get handed to QB Chris Rix and his history of inconsistency. Will offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden give Rix the freedom to open up the playbook? The I-formation with a two-receiver set, combined with a foundation of play-action passing, hasn't produced with Rix at the helm when times get tough.


OT Alex Barron (PHOTO CREDIT - Florida State Sports Information)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Chris Rix-Sr (6-4, 217) Wyatt Sexton-So (6-3, 212)
FB B.J. Dean-Jr (5-11, 253) James Coleman-Jr (6-0, 240)
TB Leon Washington-Jr (5-9, 199) Lorenzo Booker-So (5-11, 192)
WR Chauncey Stovall-Sr (6-2, 216) Willie Reid-Jr (5-10, 189)
WR Craphonso Thorpe-Sr (6-2, 185) Dominic Robinson-Sr (6-1, 205)
Chris Davis-So (6-0, 173)
TE Paul Irons-Sr (6-2, 235) Matt Henshaw-Jr (6-4, 218)
OT Alex Barron-Sr (6-6, 316) Mario Henderson-So (6-7, 330)
OG Matt Meinrod-Jr (6-4, 300) Cory Niblock-So (6-4, 296)
C David Castillo-Sr (6-2, 301) John Frady-So (6-4, 280)
OG Bobby Meeks-Sr (6-3, 299) Eric Broe-Jr (6-6, 310)
OT Ray Willis-Sr (6-6, 314) Ron Lunford-Jr (6-5, 340)
K Xavier Beitia-Sr (5-10, 190) Chase Goggans-Fr (5-9, 160)
Chris Rix....Ricks
Craphonso Thorpe....kra fawn-zo
Matt Meinrod...MINE-rod
David Castillo....cass-STEE-oh
Xavier Beitia....sah-vee-ed Bay-thee-uh
Cory Niblock....NIB-lock
Eric Broe....BRO



Defensive Line
During the 2001 and 2002 seasons, FSU had a major deficit in the sack category. In '03, the numbers and QB pressures rose. A big part of that climb had to do with second-team All-ACC DE Eric Moore and his 7.5 sacks. Former JUCO All-American Chauncey Davis steps in to fill the other spot after being tabbed the MVP of 2003 spring practice. Don't forget about Kansas-native Kamerion Wimbley, another parade All-American. With a huge burst of speed and long arms, he may be the most gifted of the bunch.

A quick glance at the key losses shows two vacant spots on the inside. However, sturdy replacements can be found starting with well-seasoned Travis Johnson. He will be an important leader up front and possibly the most intricate part of the DL. Another player tagged for instant notoriety is junior Brodrick Bunkley. Although possessing the most physical attributes, he is short on experience. Look for pass rushing specialist Charles Howard, a former DE, to play inside on most passing situations - FSU loves to rotate on the inside. That tactic may prove difficult until some talented, but inexperienced back-ups gain some much-needed reps.

Much like the DTs a massive array of young superstars appears ready for the limelight after waiting patiently. Wild anticipation exists with the future play of young phenom Ernie Sims, the nation's undisputed top-rated prep linebacker just one year removed from local North Florida Christian High School in Tallahassee. LB coach Kevin Steele once called Sims "a freak of nature rivaled only by the FSU likes of Derrick Brooks". Look for Sims to move over to the strong side to make way for yet another young shooting star in A.J. Nicholson, a former USA Today Prep All-American who leads all LBs with three starts. The biggest question mark may be in the middle, as newcomers Sam McGrew and Buster Davis battle to start. Davis, a former Parade All-American, spent most of last season watching from the sidelines. His speed and pass rushing skills make him a well-balanced natural for this Seminole position.

Defensive Back
This area needs tweaking, and defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews is finally starting to turn the corner on this. On paper, Bryant McFadden looks good. But this former No. 1 rated cornerback out of high school has yet to meet expectations. McFadden was grounded much of last season with a groin injury. Now a healthy senior, his NFL stock is predicted to rise quickly. On the other side, Leroy Smith has seen the most action as a starter and tied for a team-leading three INTs. However, former-USA Today ""Defensive Player of The Year" Antonio Cromartie is likely to win a close battle between the two for starting duties. Cromartie is an imposing 6-foot-3 and showed brilliant flashes as a true freshman, which included a team leading 27.3 average on kick returns.

Four seniors return at two safety spots. Needless to say, the cupboard may be as full as it's ever been. Jerome Carter is a three-year starter as a Rover, but questions have been raised about his coverage ability. Former FS Kyler Hall has been moved to Rover, and, much like the last two seasons, will likely find quality playing time despite a resume of blown coverage. The battle at FS is as tight as it gets. Senior B.J. Ward has started almost every game over the course of the last two seasons and is the team's leading returning tackler. Another highly touted prep player vying for double time at the position is local native Pat Watkins. His arrival to FSU was much anticipated. At a looming 6-foot-4, Watkins was also able to snare three picks in just his second campaign.

Most of the questions exist on defense due to the losses of key personnel. Don't be surprised if this is the group, however, that ends up leading FSU to its ultimate BCS destination. The names may not be as noticeable to novice viewers, but on paper it's a "Who's Who" of high school all-world potential. Unfortunately for FSU, what is on paper doesn't necessarily equate to sure victories. Inexperience will be their only downfall. Some of the position battles during the off-season are as good as it gets.


DE Eric Moore (PHOTO CREDIT - Florida State Sports Information)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Chauncey Davis-Sr (6-2, 252) Darrell Burston-So (6-2, 235)
DT Travis Johnson-Sr (6-5, 290) Charles Howard-Sr (6-3, 265)
NG Brodrick Bunkley-Jr (6-3, 290) Clifton Dickson-So (6-4, 290)
DE Eric Moore-Sr (6-4, 250) Kamerion Wimbley-Jr (6-4, 232)
SLB Ray Piquion-Sr (6-0, 222) Ernie Sims-So (6-0, 225)
MLB Buster Davis-So (5-11, 232) Sam McGrew-Jr (6-3, 239)
WLB A.J. Nicholson-Jr (6-2, 234) Marcello Church-Jr (6-1, 228)
CB Antonio Cromartie-So (6-3, 205) Leroy Smith-Sr (5-10, 185)
CB Bryant McFadden-Sr (6-0, 190) Gerard Ross-Jr (6-2, 197)
ROV Jerome Carter-Sr (6-0, 214) Kyler Hall-Sr (6-0, 190)
Claudius Osei-Sr (6-0, 198)
FS B.J. Ward-Sr (6-3, 208) Pat Watkins-Jr (6-4, 210)
P Chris Hall-Jr (5-10, 215) ..
Ray Piquion....pick-une
Antonio Cromartie....crow-mahr-TEE
Kamerion Wimbley....Cameron
Claudius Osei....OH-say




Xavier Beitia retains the starting kicking duties for this his final season. The X-man collegiate story is an amazing roller coaster. Much like QB Chris Rix, his inconsistency has hurt FSU at the most crucial times, as witnessed by multiple key misses versus nemesis Miami. One has to believe Beitia's confidence is shot, and that doesn't bode well in a season where the kicker will likely determine a few games in this new, highly competitive ACC. If the opener against Miami is on the line, will Bowden's kicker be doomed to repeat history yet again?

Chris Hall, a former walk-on, takes over the position for departed Jesse Stein. He's proven to have a strong leg. The knock on Hall has been his inconsistency, an all too special teams common theme. FSU ranked 11th in net punting, so defensive depth will again key this dimension to win field position battles.



Stating injuries have riddled the offense this spring would be an understatement…QB Chris Rix was once again the Spring Offensive MVP. His grades in terms of improvement were too difficult to gauge due to working with several walk-on receivers (who dropped way too many balls) and a banged up OL. Rix also stepped aside much of the time so back-up Wyatt Sexton could gain some much needed reps…If another case could be made for Spring Offensive MVP, RB Lorenzo Booker would have been that player. Booker is ten pounds heavier and pushing as hard as ever, running flares and screens in many passing situations. Look for Booker to be a huge weapon at receiver as well as RB. His mate Leon Washington, however, sat out the spring while having foot surgery…Four missing starters were out all or most of spring at WR due to injuries. Dominic Robinson was the only starter from last fall to see any action during the Spring Garnet & Gold Game. With playing time available, Chauncey Stovall made it evident that he is ready to be the No. 2 threat after making several nice grabs through out the spring. With the severity of Craphonso Thorpe's leg injury last November, many felt he would end up with a medical redshirt only to return in 2005. That is not the case. In fact, his speedy recovery has him penciled in to be full strength in time for the Miami opener...Bobby and Jeff Bowden have made it clear they want to get the tight ends involved in the offense much like their in-state rivals have done with guys like Ben Troupe at Florida and Kellen Winslow at Miami. The star of spring in this role has been 6'4 Donnie Carter. The former DT has been impressive during 11-on-11 drills...The OL worked without four starting linemen when spring practice began. Starting offensive tackles Ray Willis and Alex Barron and starting guard Bobby Meeks underwent shoulder surgery. Center David Castillo underwent foot surgery. With so many players out, many who have played but never been a full-time starter got that opportunity. Most important, John Frady solidified the center position with some depth finally after fulfilling that role sporadically last fall as a frosh.


Read into it what you will, but with so many injuries in the offensive side of the ball, the defense was dominant during most sessions...The good news on the newly formed DL is that freshman Chris Bradwell and Clifton Dickson really came on strong late in the spring. Broderick Bunkley and Travis Johnson are in a heated battle for one of the open DT spots. Although most felt Johnson was set to be the next playmaker up front, injuries and work-ethic have kept him from taking that step to the next level...DE Darrell Burston is likely to be the fourth end in the rotation. Look for Willie Jones or freshman Alex Boston to be utilized more during passing situations...The LBs had to replace the most starters, but the newcomers have been simply awesome. A.J. Nicholson proved to be the next great for 2004. He's not the fastest of the bunch, but can almost always be found where the ball is. He accomplishments made him the Hinesman Award Winner for being the most dominating player of the spring. At SLB, Ray Piquon gets the nod over the talented Ernie Sims due to being a senior. LB Coach Kevin Steele called Piquion the most underrated player of the group. However, Sims will see a good bit of playing time and could easily wind up the starter. At MLB, Buster Davis and Sam McGrew are still in a battle for the starting job. One may start the first week; while the other starts the next...Making the biggest surprise splash at DB was freshman Roger Williams, who filled in at the rover and free safety position this spring. There is a great chance he will see time at both spots. CB Gerard Ross will be the fourth corner in the rotation. Nagging injuries have forced limited playing time however.

TB - Lorenzo Booker
LB - A.J. Nicholson