New transfers and freshmen impressed by intensity of Florida State's Tour of Duty conditioning program

Johnny Wilson has spent the last two years as a wide receiver at Arizona State.

So he knows what goes into an off-season strength and conditioning program of a football team at the FBS level of college football.

Despite this, his introduction into Florida State's Tour of Duty off-season program over his first few weeks since arriving as a transfer have been enlightening.

"The first week here, it was like a shock to my body almost," Wilson said Thursday.

"I felt like I've never lifted like that before how they lift here. I never ran how I ran here when I got here. It was just like a big shock."

Wilson is one of 10 transfers the Seminoles have added this offseason. All 10 of them have enrolled this semester and they consist of nearly half of FSU's 22 total early enrollees.

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The vast majority of these additions arrive at FSU after having significant roles at their previous stops. Because of this, they are closer to the ideal body types for their positions than many of the incoming freshmen.

Considering the instant roles these transfer additions will be asked to step into, it's critical that they maximize the offseason program and refine themselves.

Wilson made it clear during his first time addressing the media since his transfer that he is already seeing the fruits of his labor with FSU director of strength and conditioning Josh Storms and his staff.

"Since I've been here, it's been like three weeks, I've already felt myself getting stronger, getting faster. The strength program that they have here is great. It's been very beneficial for the short amount of time that I've been here already..." Wilson said.

"After the first week of going through it, the second week I came back and I didn't expect myself to do as good as I was doing in the weight room. I was pushing my weight. I was going up. I saw a great improvement in just like the first week of me being there and then going on to the second and third. Coach Storms does a great job of getting his guy's strong and getting his guys healthy. I've seen great improvement already and I'm excited to see where this lands me."

Florida State Seminoles strength and conditioning coach Josh Storms gets players warmed up. The Seminoles work on stepping up their game in the offseason during a spring practice, Thursday, March 12, 2020.
Florida State Seminoles strength and conditioning coach Josh Storms gets players warmed up. The Seminoles work on stepping up their game in the offseason during a spring practice, Thursday, March 12, 2020.

The vast majority of FSU's freshman class won't see the field as quickly as this off-season's transfer additions. However, a number of them have been similarly impressed with the early returns of their strength and conditioning work.

"It’s been great and pretty humbling. Because you’ve just got to learn technique so it is basically like you are learning from the beginning," FSU freshman linebacker Omar Graham Jr. said.

"I’m doing a lot of workouts that I’ve never done before, doing a lot of stuff. I’m being pushed to a limit that I never knew I could reach. It is great so far."

FSU head coach Mike Norvell, while not directly supervising the program yet due to NCAA rules, has his fingerprints all over the work his team has been doing.

Early enrollee offensive lineman Kanaya Charlton sees the long-term plan at work even in the day-to-day schedule.

"What Norvell put together, it builds a whole lot of mental toughness and physical toughness and mental fortitude because you have to finish and you have to do it for your teammates, your brothers around you because if you don't there will be a punishment for the whole group," Charlton said.

"They want you to find it deep inside of yourself to push harder for your teammates, more than yourself because football is a team sport. It’s the best sport in my opinion. But it's team-orientated. So if your team isn't good, mentally, you may not be the best football team even if you have the physical capability. That's why he's working on us now, even as freshmen to get the fortitude that we need to become a mentally stable team."

Benson's transfer to FSU brings him full circle

Trey Benson became the 10th and final transfer addition to enroll early at FSU this semester after he committed on Jan. 18.

He was a standout four-star running back at Greenville (Miss.) St. Joseph High, rushing for a combined 3,616 yards and 48 touchdowns over his junior and senior seasons.

An injury suffered during his freshman season at Oregon kept him from making an impact in two seasons with the Ducks. He managed just six carries for 22 yards in 2021 as he worked back from his severe knee injury. But Benson says now that he's 100% and expects to be a full participant in the Seminoles' spring camp.

In multiple ways, Benson's transfer to FSU marks a full-circle move of sorts. For one, Norvell was the first head coach to offer Benson a scholarship when he was at Memphis.

"Coach Norvell is a great coach. I wanted to get my opportunity, but I had bigger plans at Oregon," Benson said.

"But now I got the chance to give them the opportunity. I’m in Tallahassee now."

The move also gives Benson a chance to be the next great FSU running back from the state of Mississippi. Asked about which NFL running backs he tries to play like Benson mentioned Cam Akers, a native of Clinton, Miss. and former Seminole from 2017 through 2019 who is now a running back for the Los Angeles Rams.

"Him being from Mississippi and him being at Florida State is kind of a coincidence, but I try to model my game after Cam Akers..." Benson said.

Former Oregon running back Trey Benson is following in the footsteps of fellow Mississippi native Cam Akers by becoming a piece in the FSU backfield.
Former Oregon running back Trey Benson is following in the footsteps of fellow Mississippi native Cam Akers by becoming a piece in the FSU backfield.

"I’ve watched Cam since he was in middle school, since I was in elementary. I’ve watched him all the way growing up. When he was at Clinton, winning championships, scoring 7 touchdowns in the state championship game. And then going to Florida State, I’ve watched him throughout college and high school, and the NFL too."

Akers rushed for 2,875 yards and 27 touchdowns over his three seasons with the Seminoles. Benson is hopeful that with his clean bill of health over a year removed from his injury that he can follow in his footsteps.

"We’re just all going to come in and compete and I’m here to compete and develop myself, let the coaches develop me," Benson said.

Reach Curt Weiler at or follow him on Twitter @CurtMWeiler.

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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: FSU S&C director Josh Storms making strides with Tour of Duty program