Greg Tony - Dream come true
No. 1 Fullback Greg Tony
Although the starting jobs are open at almost every position there has been very little change to the recently released spring practice depth chart. If you look closely you will notice one surprise at the fullback spot. With the graduation William McCray and Chad Maeder, coupled with medical disqualification of former starter Randy Golightly, the cupboard is pretty bare at fullback. Enter walk-on Greg Tony.
This isn't the first time Tony's name has has come up. Last fall FSU head coach Bobby Bowden frequently bragged about the play of the undersized fullback in practices. With McCray and Golightly battling injuries last season, it looked for a while like fans might get to see what all the fuss was about. Unfortunately, Tony's window of opportunity closed when a fractured vertebra, which he refers to as a "little back problem", ended his season.
With his health regained, that window of opportunity re-opened this spring and now Tony finds himself as the No. 1 fullback going into the annual Garnet and Gold game. Although many believe redshirt freshman B.J. Dean, who was moved to fullback from linebacker, will eventually win the job, Tony intends be in the backfield when the offense takes the field versus Iowa State on August 24th.
"It's there," said Tony about the starting job. "The main thing I want to do right now is not become content and start slacking off because I'm in the number one spot. There are some guys who are injured and they could come back and be hungry and beat me out."
Not only is it unusual to find a walk-on starting at a major college football program like Florida State, Tony, at 5'11" and 215-pounds, is much smaller than most fullbacks. In fact, he's 30 pounds lighter than the Noles' starting tailback Greg Jones. Nevertheless, Tony doesn't see that as a disadvantage.
"What I do have is speed so I utilize that. Most guys when they come out at 250-pounds they can just thud and muscle their way out of it. I use my speed to accelerate through them. That helps out a lot."
The other unusual thing about Tony is where he grew up. You won't find any other players on the roster from Pennsylvania. So how does a athlete growing up in Philadelphia find his way onto the fields of Doak Campbell Stadium?
"I'm a big fan of Florida State," said Tony. "Most guys in Pennsylvania watch Joe Paterno at Penn State but I wasn't attracted to those guys. I watched games whenever I could of Florida State and just figured one day I'd pack up and give it a shot."
That day came in 1998 when Tony traveled to Tallahassee with nothing but a dream of one day wearing the Garnet and Gold. With hardly any money to his name it took a while for him to earn enough to pay his tuition and get into Florida State. When he did it wasn't long before he found his way to the practice fields.
"I worked for a while and got some money together while I was in town," said Tony. "Then I applied and got into FSU and once I got over here I tried out for the football team. I've been playing on special teams since I got here."
Now a senior, Tony was injured in the spring of 2000 and 2001 but found his way to fullback last fall. If all goes well he could fulfill his dream and find his way to a starting job this fall.
"I've been here for three years and I'm working hard," said Tony. "Hopefully I can finish strong and get the chance to start out at two-a-days at that number one spot and hold on to it."
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