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Stepping up: News, observations from one of Johnny Wilson’s best practices of the year

Johnny Wilson, Fabien Lovett, and the young linebackers were bright spots in a “really good work day” for the Seminoles

Peyton Baker/Tomahawk Nation

Today is a day that Mike Norvell has been begging for.

Tuesday looked to be Florida State’s most consistent practice since the beginning of fall camp. Mike Norvell did not mention any up-and-down moments during his press conference. The phrase missed opportunities was not spoken either. The Seminoles seem to be sharpening their skills, and the improvements are apparent week to week. The Florida State head coach seemed calm by Mike Norvell's standards, mentioning there was a lot of “good on good work” and “saw some guys really responding.” Johnny Wilson answered the bell today at practice along with the defensive tackles and young linebackers who were today's stars.

Johnny Wilson

One of the first songs played over the loudspeakers this morning was “Welcome to the Party” by Pop Smoke. Whether it was coincidence or intentional, Johnny Wilson took the song to heart. The Arizona State transfer flashed his potential all over the field. FSU moved Wilson all over the field today during 11 on 11 and 7 on 7 work, and the mismatches created opportunities for the receiver. He made multiple catches against the first-team defense, often finding the soft spot in the zone and using his incredible frame to shield the ball from defenders. Wilson continued his sparkling by getting the better of Shyiem Brown on two deep balls, gaining a step on the safety, and making difficult grabs on balls thrown a couple of feet in front of him. Mike Norvell did not seem to worry about #14 on Saturday night, and he offered thoughts on his playmaker, saying, “Johnny had an exceptional day... but it is not shocking to me.” Great players cannot be kept down forever. Today looks to be the first step for Johnny Wilson to get back on track to meeting his potential.

Defensive Tackles

Every day in practice, this group produces jaw-dropping moments. Braden Fiske, Joshua Farmer, and Fabien Lovett specifically took over another practice. Counting how many times this group has owned the day is becoming challenging. Joshua Farmer commanded multiple 1-on-1s against the interior offensive line, each rep getting his arms fully extended and standing up the opposing player. Braden Fiske produced a picture-perfect rip-through move on Casey Roddick, which drew high praise from Odell Haggins, who is hard to impress.

Fabien Lovett may have been the best of the bunch.

Although he battled injuries during the spring and fall camp, he seems to be back to 100%. During 11 on 11 work, he got into the pocket so fast that the coaches were forced to blow the play dead. During running drills against the first-team offense line, he was a constant nuisance, standing up the opposing players and, at times, even dancing to the music being played. The scariest part for opposing offenses is how FSU rotates the group. Mike Norvell mentioned during his media availability that he wants to keep all of their snap counts below 50% throughout the year and wants his guys fresh from week 1 to December. The head coach lost his daily race to Braden Fiske today, saying the transfer tackle has “fresh legs after 15 snaps!” This will be the only time Norvell will complain about the workload for his players.

Freshman Linebackers

The coaching staff told the media that the incoming freshmen would make an impact this year. The clearest example of this could be seen with Blake Nichelson and Omar Graham Jr. Adam Fuller gushed over the California native, saying, “Blake is our most improved player over the last month... he will have a role in our defense as the season progresses.” The defensive coordinator let his actions speak with Graham, using #36 for most of the first half and often as the only linebacker in their dime package. The two youngsters continued their ascending play Tuesday during practice as Nichelson made a brilliant special teams tackle, stopping the ball carrier at the 15 line, which drew hefty cheers from the coaching staff. Omar Graham received plenty of work, with the first team starters constantly asking questions to Adam Fuller and looking more comfortable with each rep. With any team, depth will get tested. The Florida State linebackers are starting to look like a group that will pass with flying colors.

Florida State practices again tomorrow; Mike Norvell and player interviews are below.

Head Coach Mike Norvell

Defensive lineman Fabien Lovett

Offensive lineman D’Mitri Emmanuel

Video via

Running back Caziah Holmes

Video Courtesy