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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Receiver thrown off route
Stung by a poor game, FSU's De'Cody Fagg vows to find the focus he had in the offseason.
By BRIAN LANDMAN, Times Staff Writer
Published September 7, 2007
TALLAHASSEE - For the past few months, Florida State receiver De'Cody Fagg has looked like a guy on his way to a career year.
For a few hours Monday night, he looked like a guy lost in a fog.
After a solid, if not spectacular offseason and preseason, he dropped as many passes as he caught two, botched some assignments and even admitted he took a couple of plays off against Clemson. He wasn't alone as the offense struggled for nearly three quarters (the defense for a half) in the Seminoles' 24-18 season-opening loss.
"I have to put that game behind me and concentrate on UAB," he said of Saturday's opponent, Alabama-Birmingham.
If the way he has approached the past few months is any indication, Fagg, one of just five senior starters, can refocus like few others.
The former Quincy Shanks High standout, who signed in 2003 but didn't academically qualify and spent a semester at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., before enrolling, has worked harder than ever to make the most of his final collegiate season.
He has trimmed down to a more chiseled 211, losing almost 10 pounds (it was more before he started adding muscle) from his powerful 6-foot-3 frame. The Sporting News, in fact, tabbed him the Atlantic Coast Conference's most physical receiver.
"When I came out of high school, I was a top-name wide receiver and I've never gotten the chance to show that here at Florida State," he said. "This is my last year. It's time to show them what I'm capable of doing and that I'm a better receiver than I was the last three years."
It's not that he has been a proverbial bust.
Fagg has at least one reception in the past 15 games he has played, and he can become just the fifth Seminole to have three consecutive seasons with at least 30 receptions, joining Ron Sellers, Kez McCorvey, Peter Warrick and E.G. Green. Not bad company. But he has not been that big-play guy, with 904 career yards on 79 catches and two touchdowns.
Fagg, 22, has improved his speed and his moves. New receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey, renowned more for his work ethic than his natural gifts during his All-America career at FSU and time in the NFL, stresses the need to get after it at all times.
"We can't walk out there; even during a break, we have to jog," Fagg said. "But I feel a whole lot better out on the field, running quicker and faster. I'm doing things like I did in high school."
He also caught the eye of coach Bobby Bowden, who named him the offensive captain.
"He had a tremendous spring; he had a tremendous preseason," Bowden said. "He didn't have a good game the other night. I don't know why. Maybe it's a real big lesson for him. He's going to have to play better than that, for his own benefit and ours. ... I'm expecting him to snap out of it."
New offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher and Fagg had a chat after the team returned to Tallahassee, and Fagg has assured him and his teammates that beginning Saturday he'll look more like the guy everyone saw before Labor Day, not on Labor Day.
A guy ready to break out.
A guy determined to do so.
"I'm the captain of the offense," he said, "and it's time for me to step up and make plays to help the team."
Times correspondent Jamey Givens contributed to this report. Brian Landman can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3347. Read his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/Seminoles.