Jaiden Lars-Woodbey wanted to be on the field with his Florida State teammates.
But he did everything he could to support them, coaching from the sideline and immersing in film study throughout the remainder of the 2019 season.
“Honestly, it just showed me how important film study is,” Lars-Woodbey said. “I already knew how important it was, but since I literally couldn’t play, it just put that much more of an emphasis on doing the little things such as watching film and going up there and getting on the whiteboard with the coaches.”
Lars-Woodbey says the emphasis on film study has helped him have a greater understanding of the what the different pieces on defense are responsible for, whether it’s the linemen, linebackers or defensive backs.
“It’s just like a big puzzle,” Lars-Woodbey said.
And the puzzle is taking shape now after two offseasons that haven’t been fun for Lars-Woodbey. He played through his freshman season in 2018 with a torn labrum in his shoulder, which required surgery that forced him to miss spring practice in 2019. Lars-Woodbey was off to a good start in the fall, accumulating 19 tackles in four games before suffering a knee injury that would end his season.
When FSU opened spring practice on Saturday, some of the pleasant surprises were seeing players working their way back from injuries. Wide receiver Keyshawn Helton was fielding punts while wearing a brace. And Lars-Woodbey was also running around with a brace on his knee.
Lars-Woodbey looked good as he went through workouts. There were dark days, ones where he couldn’t put his own socks on and needed help standing up. Those are in the past.
He’s also slimmed down a little, to 219 pounds and is back at safety after spending time at linebacker early in his career.
“I’ve actually lost four pounds,” Lars-Woodbey said. “I just feel so much better. They have us doing stuff I’ve never even heard of or thought of and they explain it. Now we’ve got an understanding of it. These last nine weeks have been very challenging, but they’ve been very enlightening and inspiring as well.”
Lars-Woodbey is busy learning a safety position that defensive coordinator Adam Fuller has called a “buck.” The emphasis is on being versatile, Lars-Woodbey said. And he has shown the capability to do that in his career.
“Learning the run fits and knowing you got to be in the run fits sometimes,” Lars-Woodbey said. “Knowing that you’re a pass defender. Knowing that you’re a post defender. Knowing that you got to play man-to-man coverage and everything, too. All of those things.”
Lars-Woodbey smiles as he talks about the future. He thinks every year brings about change but said that under coach Mike Norvell “we’re a little bit more disciplined. A lot of guys are a lot more disciplined and serious.”
That discipline and focus could be a difference in 2020.
“The last three years weren’t the best for Florida State,” Lars-Woodbey said. “They were all learning years. We don’t want to have another one. The ’17 class and the ’18 class, we’re stepping up a lot because we’ve experienced the tough times at Florida State. We don’t want to have that moment again. I feel like the coaches know and we know that, so we’re on one accord.”
Rodemaker’s first practice
Tate Rodemaker enrolled early just for this: a chance to get a jump on college football. What he got was an early wake-up call: tour of duty workouts.
“It’s been really good,” Rodemaker said. “I’ve gained probably nine pounds so far. Tour of Duty is probably the toughest thing I’ve ever done. But the workouts have been going good. It’s tough. It’s getting us better.”
Rodemaker said the concepts of Norvell’s offense are similar to what he ran at Valdosta High the last few years. The playbook is bigger and there are more details And he pointed out that “basically everybody on offense is a freshman.”
His first practice Saturday was a blur as players and coaches were in constant motion. Rodemaker made some precise passes but was often behind receivers. Building chemistry with receivers will take time. But Rodemaker said he is enjoying the learning process and enjoys Norvell’s offensive schemes.
“The way he makes it so easy for us to read on passing concepts,” Rodemaker said. “It makes it easy on us and our receivers.”
FSU will practice on Tuesday at 9 a.m. and again Thursday at 9 a.m. The team will then be off for spring break.