Two straight years on the sidelines is obviously not how Derrick Mitchell envisioned his Florida State career would begin.
The defensive tackle from Jacksonville First Coast High School took a redshirt in the fall of 2011, then was hobbled by a knee injury last spring and ultimately was sidelined the entire 2012 season with a back injury.
After months of rehab, the 6-foot-5, 320-pound Mitchell says he finally feels back to full speed this spring and he couldn't be happier.
"It's indescribable," he said. "I was a little nervous getting back out there, a couple jitters, but after that first hit it was back."
Mitchell said he wasn't limited at all during fourth quarter conditioning drills earlier in the semester, but it still took a few practices in full pads for him to truly believe he was all the way back from both injuries.
"I felt like I had a lot to prove to myself," he said. "That I can get out there, that I can run, I can attack blockers, pass rush, run stop, I feel like I can do it all."
Mitchell said he actually feels better now than when fall camp began last August. He's slimmed down some and said he feels quicker.
Head coach Jimbo Fisher has been pleased with what he's seen from the redshirt sophomore so far this spring.
"It's good to get him back out here," Fisher said. "His back's been holding up good and getting good reps and getting better. Derrick's going to be a good player."
Mitchell's teammates have also praised him for his work thus far. He said he tries to block that stuff out, but that he does enjoy the compliments after two seasons on the sidelines.
"I don't really worry about all that type of stuff," he said. "I just control what I can control, but it's definitely a plus getting my name back out there and showing everybody what I can do."
Northrup learns from year one
As a true freshman, linebacker Reggie Northrup played in all 13 games last season, mostly on special teams.
The Jacksonville First Coast High product recorded 10 tackles, including one for loss in his limited opportunities.
"It was a good experience," Northrup said. "I just felt like the limited time when I did get in, I just made the best of it."
This spring Northrup has been working primarily as the second team weakside linebacker behind Christian Jones. Northrup said the plan is to move all the linebackers around to all three positions later in the spring, once they have the concepts of the new coaching staff's defense down.
"We're slowly but surely making progress," he said.
The 6-foot-2, 223-pound linebacker said the biggest lesson he learned as a true freshman was the level of effort required on every snap to be successful. Which is just fine with the man that teammates have said is one of the more intense guys on the practice field.
Northrup admitted he's been slowed a bit this spring by the new defense, but once he gets it down he plans to wreak havoc again, even if it is just practice.
"I only know one speed," he said. "Previous practices I've been kind of slow, focusing more on my assignment and learning these new plays. But once I get he hang of it, I've only got one speed and that's fast."
Winston racks up the air miles
After completing football practice on Saturday morning, dual-sport athlete Jameis Winston will fly down to Miami by himself to join the rest of the baseball team in time for the second of three games with the University of Miami.
First pitch on Saturday is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on CSS and ESPN3.com. The baseball team is ranked No. 5 sitting at 25-4 overall, and 8-4 in the ACC.
"He's going to practice in the morning then he'll fly down and join them for the night game," Fisher said. "He'll be there Saturday and Sunday."
Winston missed last weekend's series in Blacksburg, Va. against Virginia Tech due to spring football.
He started the season as both a reserve outfielder and relief pitcher, but hasn't had been in the starting lineup since March 5 against Presbyterian. Winston is hitting .222 for the year with two doubles, a triple and one run driven in.
His biggest impact has come out of the bullpen. In nine appearances he has thrown 11 and 1/3 innings, giving up just four earned runs on 10 hits and five walks, while striking out nine batters. He has an ERA of 3.18 and opponents are hitting .227 off of him.
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