DAVIE -- Salvatore Sunseri, the man taking over the coaching of Florida State's defensive ends and better known as Sal, has officially stepped foot on an FSU practice field as a Seminoles assistant. After signing with the program late last week, he joined his new team as it went through a light workout in South Florida ahead of next week's Orange Bowl.
Although Sunseri had been spotted by reporters at several practices early last week donning FSU T-shirts and dress pants, none of the sessions counted toward his paycheck and tenure. He hadn't officially signed an offer sheet with the university.
By last Thursday, though, that issue was rectified. He was given the full seal of approval. He was on staff.
Complete with an FSU pullover and garnet-colored hat, Sunseri stalked the sidelines at Nova Southeastern University where the Seminoles trained for the first time in South Florida before next Tuesday's game against Northern Illinois. He was already barking orders, too.
"You don't look for 'yes guys,'" head coach Jimbo Fisher said. "You want guys that have ideas, that have things to throw out to you and help you grow even as you're constantly making decisions. ... That's what he's been able to do."
According to Fisher and defensive players, Sunseri has already been offering suggestions and pushing his personnel to make minor fixes or subtle changes.
"He voices his opinion," linebacker Christian Jones said. "If he sees one of us mess up, he gives us a little pointer. It's good having him out there."
Sunseri was signed last week after having been fired at the end of the regular season by Tennessee. The 53-year-old served as the Volunteers' defensive coordinator this season after previously working as an assistant at Alabama, Pittsburgh and in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers.
"We like the fact that he's coming out here getting familiar with us," Jones said.
Sunseri played linebacker at Pitt in the late 1970s and early 80s. His son, Tino, is Pitt's current quarterback.
Sal Sunseri will fully take over leading FSU's defensive ends after the season once D.J. Eliot leaves for Kentucky. Eliot had been coaching the position for the Seminoles since 2010 before he landed a job as the Wildcats' new defensive coordinator under new head coach Mark Stoops. Until last month, Stoops had been FSU's third-year defensive coordinator.
Alabama assistant Jeremy Pruitt was hired last week to replace Stoops.
"I love that on my side; when guys are constantly bringing things up," Fisher said.
Practice leaves Fisher encouraged
FSU coach Jimbo Fisher, as you'll be able to see in the video below, came away from Thursday's session in Davie near the Miami Dolphins' training facility, encouraged.
He told reporters the workout was the best one his team has had this postseason. It was better than any session the Seminoles had in Tallahassee, he added.
Perhaps the reality of finally being in South Florida has energized the team, Fisher said.
"You realize, 'Hey, I'm playing in the Orange Bowl. I watched this game on TV my whole life,'" Fisher said. "This is a BCS bowl. We haven't been here in a long time. It's exciting for the school -- exciting for them as individuals. I mean, how many times do you get to play in a BCS bowl game?"
The team will work out through the weekend, using Monday as its walk-through day ahead of Tuesday's bowl game against the Huskies. Friday and Saturday's sessions will be like the typical hard, physical Tuesday and Wednesday practices the Seminoles go through during normal game weeks that end on Saturdays.
Storms force Winston to arrive late
Jameis Winston, one of FSU's potential-filled backup freshmen quarterbacks, finally arrived at the team hotel in Hollywood on Thursday, Fisher said.
Storms the day after Christmas throughout Winston's native Alabama had forced planes across the state to be grounded. He and a few other players were a little late arriving to South Florida because of the travel delays, Fisher said.
The Seminoles landed in Fort Lauderdale late Wednesday afternoon after their own flight out of Tallahassee was delayed for a few moments. Per Fisher's rules, players weren't required to come back to Tallahassee in order to travel with the team. That caused many to decide to spend an extended Christmas break with their families before meeting the team at its hotel. Most players from Florida didn't venture back after going home.