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FSU football exit interview with NFL draft prospect Fabien Lovett

TAMPA — Fabien Lovett was a key part of Florida State’s transformation from struggling former power to College Football Playoff contender.

The 6-foot-4, 314-pound defensive lineman transferred in from Mississippi State before Mike Norvell’s first season, then rode out two losing campaigns to become a captain on last year’s ACC championship team.

“Guys were tired of losing,” Lovett said. “At the end of the day, if you want to do something, you can make it happen.”

The Tampa Bay Times caught up with Lovett — a Day 3 prospect in next week’s NFL draft — during a training session at Tampa’s Athlete Innovations for an exit interview on his Seminoles career. The conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

When did you see it click?

The year we went 10-3 (2022). We knew we were supposed to win all those three games, but it’s just part of the journey and part of how everything was supposed to go. We knew at the end of the day when spring came back around what time it was and how we needed to approach everything.

Did you ever doubt at any point that the turnaround could happen, that you guys could get to where you got?

No. I never doubted it. I knew after the 10-3 season, yeah, we’re going to go undefeated the next year. Everyone said it. Everyone knew it. We just knew what it took to get there.

What did you think watching the Orange Bowl (as one of the opt-outs in the 63-3 loss to Georgia)?

It was bad, but none of our players that really played the season played (in the game). It was sad to watch, but at the end of the day it was sad that we didn’t get into the playoff, either. Shoot, if all our guys would have played, I felt like that game would have been totally different. We probably could have actually won.

Guys had to get ready for the next chapters in our life. We were planning on being in the playoff. We didn’t come back to play in the Orange Bowl. We came back to play in the playoff. We didn’t get the opportunity, so I feel like guys were like, “They slapped us in the face, so forget the game.”

When did you get over the playoff snub?

I don’t think I’ll ever be over it. It’s just a thing that, at the end of the day, I can’t think about it any more. I’ve just got to focus on what I’ve got to do now and prepare myself for the next chapter in life.

I covered you guys a good amount. This wasn’t the same (roster).

Exactly. Then the Georgia players, they went out there to prove a point. We didn’t have a point to prove, because we won our conference. We were looking to get in the playoff.

What was Norvell like compared to what you expected?

He was a good coach. He was more consistent. A lot of coaches aren’t consistent with a lot of things they do. At Florida State, those coaches are consistent. They keep trying to get you to put your best foot forward.

What’s it like to actually be at this stage where the NFL isn’t a pipe dream? It’s right there.

It’s a blessing just to have this opportunity and be in a situation to work like this. I worked so hard to be in the position I am. It’s real fulfilling. All my dreams are starting to come to life, coming into my hands. It’s just taking it day by day and just keeping God first and keeping everything rolling and keeping everything positive and doing everything I need to do so when that time comes, I’ll be ready.

What’s a favorite memory at Florida State?

Winning the ACC championship.

That simple?

Yeah, that simple. That was big. That was the first one in (nine years). We were the third team to go 13-0 also, to have our name in the books.

How do you feel about where the program is now and where you and your cohort left it?

I feel like we left it in a great position. It’s on those guys coming in to keep it rolling. That NIL (name, image and likeness) looks great. But at the end of the day, if y’all ain’t winning, that NIL’s going to go back down where you don’t want it to be.

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