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FSU freshman RB Jones impresses coaches quickly

Carlton Jones, here running for Middleton High last season against Tampa Bay Tech, has impressed Florida State’s coaches right away.

JAMES BRANAMAN | Special to the Times

Carlton Jones, here running for Middleton High last season against Tampa Bay Tech, has impressed Florida State’s coaches right away.

TALLAHASSEE — Freshman tailback Carlton Jones, a former standout from Middleton High, showed Tuesday morning why Florida State coaches have been so high on him.

The 5-foot-11, 215-pound Jones put on a dizzying move for an impressive run in a red-zone drill during the Seminoles' first practice in full pads on a rainy morning.

"He's very unique," offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher said. "He has very good long speed, very good quickness, can change direction, has power, a low center of gravity, and catches the ball."

Despite his skills and prep stats, Jones was only a two-star prospect by rivals.com. Jones chose FSU over Toledo. But Fisher said the only issue for FSU was if Jones would qualify.

"We always thought he was an outstanding player," he said.

He figures to back up senior Antone Smith and junior-college transfer Tavares Pressley, assuming Pressley is cleared. Fisher was expecting transcripts to arrive Tuesday from El Camino (Calif.) Community College.

NOTABLES: Defensive end Kevin McNeil, who has been completing course work to get eligible, was cleared to return to practice, though he had to just do conditioning (without pads) until he goes through the NCAA-required acclimation process. When he can play, however, is unclear as a result of the academic misconduct scandal. … Safety Myron Rolle, who rolled his right ankle Monday, was on the field and had an impressive pass breakup that led to an interception by Dekoda Watson in a seven-on-seven drill.

UF: More injuries

GAINESVILLE — The Florida training room is getting to be nearly as crowded as the dining hall. A rash of injuries led coach Urban Meyer and his staff to postpone a scrimmage.

Tampa native and backup offensive lineman Jim Barrie and freshman linebacker Brendan Beal each have a torn ACL, the fourth and fifth such injuries to the Gator squad since July. Freshman receiver T.J. Lawrence injured his right shoulder Monday and is out indefinitely, and freshman safety Will Hill (concussion) returned to practice Tuesday after missing two days. Sophomore defensive back Moses Jenkins also is recovering from a concussion. Defensive back Jeremy Brown (muscle spasms, back) has missed the past two days.

Today's scrimmage is critical since it's the only one before the Gators begin preparation for Hawaii. Many positions are still at stake.

"(Today) is a big day," assistant head/defensive line coach Dan McCarney said. "It's a big evaluation. It's game speed, it's game snaps. We've got to find out a lot about these guys."

Starting receivers Percy Harvin (heel) and Louis Murphy (ankle) are day to day, but quarterback Tim Tebow said the Gators are making the best of it.

"I think sometimes that can work out as a big benefit," Tebow said. "Me, Percy and Murph, we're going to have good timing, it's hard to have bad timing with those guys. So now we're getting used to some of these new guys, some of the tight ends and running backs and getting their timing down so when everybody gets healthy we'll have a lot of guys ready to go."

USF: Wilting in practice

TAMPA — During stretching exercises, USF coach Jim Leavitt was smiling, joking with players and begging for more heat on an already sweltering morning. After practice, however, Leavitt was not in a joking mood.

"We didn't have a good practice," Leavitt said. "Right now, it's a grind. There's nothing real special. It's probably going to be like this for a while."

Defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said his players have room for improvement.

"The first two groups had a pretty good day overall, but nobody lit up the lights," Burnham said. "Hopefully the players that did have a good day can get back out there and do better tomorrow."

Offensive coordinator Greg Gregory also was not happy with his unit: "We've got to crank it up all the way across, from offensive line to receivers to running backs to quarterbacks. I don't think any of them are playing at a high enough level and we need to get better real fast."

UM: DT Dixon returns

CORAL GABLES — Miami defensive tackle Antonio Dixon returned to practice this week after he hyperventilated in practice last week and had to be taken to a hospital.

Dixon, a 6-foot-3, 322-pound senior defensive tackle, stayed overnight in the hospital as tests were run. He was told everything was fine and to drink a lot of fluids.

"I was just excited and I couldn't take a breath," Dixon said. "It had not happened before. I have been playing football since the ninth grade, but I'll push through it and work through it."

Times staff writer Antonya English and correspondent Joe Rienzi contributed to this report, which used information from Times wires.

FSU freshman RB Jones impresses coaches quickly 08/12/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 10:55pm]
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