[The image above is from a Jacksonville Jaguars player profile video which you can watch here.]
If you could design the prototype college player, he'd be a guy who gave all for the team, was a good student and served as a model citizen for his teammates. Or you could just use Lonnie Pryor as the benchmark for all of those. The small town high school star (Okeechobee) -- who still loves to hunt and fish -- quickly became a fixture in FSU's backfield. His unselfish role as a blocking fullback captured the hearts of Nole fans. With his likable, laid-back nature and genuine smile, it's easy to see how he could one day capture voters in a run for sheriff, mayor or who knows -- that is, if he doesn't become a coach when his playing days are done. We were privileged to talk to Lonnie as he works hard honing his game for the next level. Here's part one.
In 2008 why did you choose FSU over other schools that offered scholarships?
PRYOR: "Florida State was always a dream to go there and play football. Bobby Bowden was one of the main reasons, you know. He was a good guy. I remember him coming to my high school and talking to me. So, number one to play under him. And Florida State just being part of a college town, out of all the schools I visited that's the only place that felt like home, so I had to go there."
It didn't take you long to get on the field. Talk about that first game as a freshman in 2009 against BYU in Provo. You rushed for 50 yards and scored a TD.
PRYOR: "Yeah, I had two touchdowns that game. It was kind of crazy. The first game we played Miami, and I don't think I played at all that game. In the next game, I remember them kicking me the ball and I got like two yards. And at BYU, I think one of the running backs got hurt and coach threw me in and I had two touchdowns. That was a great feeling. Like I say, I always wanted to go to a school that you dreamed of and then getting that first touchdown…it's hard to describe, but it felt good."
You must have shown something in pre-season practice as a freshman to get meaningful playing time your first year.
PRYOR: "Well, I just listened to the coaches and did what I had to do. You should be okay if you listen to the coaches and go 100% every day."
In your freshman year you had three TDs and over 150 yards, but it seemed blocking was your main job.
PRYOR: "Yeah, I did a lot of blocking. I didn't get the ball that often, especially playing fullback. My freshman year we stayed in the I-formation pretty much. And by my senior year we were in the gun a lot, so I got the ball a lot. But in my freshman year I did a lot more blocking than running. But that's the job of a fullback to block people and move people."
But during your career you got more work running the ball in some games with good results, but in others you hardly touched the ball. Why do you think that was?
PRYOR: "Just the game plan for the week. You know, if it was a team where we could run up the middle and get some yardage then I did more inside blocking. But if it was a team where you could get me in the flats or give me the ball in short yardage -- it just all depended on the defense and what they played."
You must have some good secrets for staying in shape. I don't believe you ever missed a game during your Seminole career.
PRYOR: "No, which was a blessing. I haven't missed any games and hopefully I can do that at the next level. But it was just taking care of your body. You know, after games and after practice making sure you got in the cold tub and hot tub. If you have something hurting, make sure you go to the trainers early to make sure it doesn't get worse. Like I say, those cold tubs and hot tubs will take you a long way."
What's the game you remember most from your FSU career?
PRYOR: "My senior year, the Orange Bowl game. Probably one of my best game. Got to rush for…I don't remember how many yards [it was 134 yards and 2 TDs]. But just getting the Orange Bowl MVP made it special. I'll never forget that game. I had a lot of good games I look back on, but the Orange Bowl is my best game at FSU."
It looked like the Northern Illinois players were talking some trash during that game.
PRYOR: "Well, I don't think their defense was talking much trash. But when their QB made those comments before the game, that was really crazy to say that to our defense."
Of all the games during your FSU career, what's the one you wish you could play over again?
PRYOR: "I'm gonna say this year when we played N.C. State. We lost when it came down to the end and I wish we could get that game back. So if I had to take any game back it would be that N.C. State game."