Orlando – Brian Kelly’s Irish and Jimbo Fisher’s Florida State Seminoles will receive an off-the-field consolation prize after missing out on a major bowl game in his second season: a rewarding Tuesday morning at the Give Kids the World Village, in Kissimmee, Fla., as players from both teams will have the opportunity to spend time with children with life-threatening illnesses who spend the week at the location.
“We’ll get a day with the kids in the community,” Kelly said of Tuesday’s event. “They're looking forward to it. I know our guys always like to do those kinds of community service events. Everybody has their eyes on being in a BCS game, but to come down to Orlando and the way we've been treated, it's been outstanding.”
After three weeks of dual-purpose practices with varied intensity and time frames, Kelly has preached consistency during the bowl week practices with Christmas Day (Sunday) taking the place of the usual Tuesday practice in-season to accommodate the Champs Sports Bowl’s Thursday kickoff.
“I thought the extra day (Saturday) that we got when we got down here, got some of the jet lag out of the guys; got them grounded. We've had two good days. I'm pleased with where we're at this point,” Kelly noted Monday post-practice.
With 16 verbal commitments pledged for the 2012 squad, Kelly and his staff have yet to force a few difficult decisions involving his potential 5th-year seniors for next fall. Don’t look for the decision to come too much earlier than national signing day.
“We researched it and all of our players that are in that situation have to come back for school,” he said of a potential 13 graduating seniors with eligibility remaining. “All of them are enrolled in school anyway (so) we didn't have to make any decisions on that. We don't have to because they're going to be in school anyway. We'll wait until we get back into school and then make those decisions.”
All-America tight end Tyler Eifert has a similar decision to make regarding his collegiate future. The junior continues to await feedback regarding his NFL status should he choose to forgo his senior season and enter the 2012 draft.
“It’s getting close,” Kelly said of Eifert’s decision. “A lot of that information – the NFL draft stuff – is just coming back to us now. I think he's compiling all the information. I think (he and his family) will probably have a decision, I know he's talked to them a number of times. It should be pretty soon.”
Eifert has two seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2009 season as a true freshman under former head coach, Charlie Weis. Eifert had back surgery following that campaign.
Eifert’s classmate and positional competitor Jake Golic has been shelved this season due to a pair of injuries: first a broken wrist and of late, a back injury that require surgery.
“We just talked to him and I got this from him: he had a dissectomy,” Kelly offered. “Very similar to the surgery that Tyler Eifert had (December 2009). Widened the nerve root, so it looks like six weeks and then he begins training. (It) doesn't seem to be a long-term injury, so that's good news.”
One final note on the injury front that will have a direct impact on the contest is the relative return to health of freshman defensive end Stephon Tuitt. Tuitt missed the final two games of the regular season due to an undisclosed illness.
“I think he's rounding back into shape,” Kelly said of his versatile freshman lineman. “He's obviously a physically gifted player, I think he's got fresh legs. He'll certainly add to what we're doing against Florida State.”