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FSU football team vows to honor Bobby Bowden 'in everything we do'

Before taking the field for practice Sunday morning -- their second of the 2021 preseason -- the players and coaches on the Florida State football team took time to reflect on the legacy and life of legendary head coach Bobby Bowden.

After the two-hour workout under a blazing hot Tallahassee sun, current head coach Mike Norvell said the team has vowed to "honor" Bowden with everything they do moving forward.

The coaching icon died Sunday morning at the age of 91.

"We talked about Coach Bowden and his legacy -- the man that he was and the legacy that he left," Norvell said. "Think about the impact that he made throughout his life. ... He was with us today. He's been limited in all the things he could do physically, being a part of this team and being able to come out and to be on the practice fields. But there's no doubt that today his spirit was with us. ...

"We're grateful for the example of Coach Bobby Bowden. And we're going to honor him in everything that we do, each and every day. Because he helped build this place into something that is incredibly special -- with all of his heart and all of his life. And we're grateful for him."

*ALSO SEE: Corey Clark: Rest in peace, coach... Thank you for everything!

Two of FSU's current assistant coaches -- Odell Haggins and Ron Dugans -- were recruited to Florida State by Bowden and went on to enjoy stellar playing careers with the Seminoles.

Both had to hold back tears and gather themselves while speaking with reporters after practice.

"Hearing the bad news this morning, I was at a loss for words," Dugans said. "A lot of tears came down. It was heartbreaking for me. ... The man's done a lot for me. He's done a lot for my family. And I love him and will miss him."

Said Haggins: "You know, they talk about how many football games he won. They talk about how many national championships he won. But look at how many lives he won. Look at how many lives he saved. That's the most important thing."

Haggins and Dugans both said they were grateful to be able to visit with Bowden last week and to thank him for impacting their lives.

Although he has only been at FSU for slightly less than two years, Norvell said Bowden made a major impact on him when he was a young athlete growing up in Irving, Texas.

Norvell has said previously that he grew up a fan of the Seminoles, and he said Sunday that continuing Bowden's legacy was one of the reasons he left Memphis to lead the FSU program.

"This program was the standard," Norvell said. "It was. How he did it ... it was different. There's plenty of places that care about the jersey number. He cared about the heart. He cared about the experience. I came here because I want to get back to that. ...

"He changed coaching. He changed it. He's a special man."

Dugans, who grew up in Tallahassee, said Bowden had a unique ability to reach people on "both sides of the tracks" and affect many lives in a positive way.

Within hours of the news that the coaching legend had passed shortly after 5 a.m., fans began placing flowers at the base of the Bobby Bowden statue in front of the Moore Athletics Center.

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