Florida State receiver Willie Haulstead never got the chance last season to build off a promising sophomore campaign. A preseason concussion ended up costing Halstead the entire 2011 season, forcing him to redshirt and delaying his return to the field until this spring.
"I had a smile from ear-to-ear, knowing I'm out there playing football, the game that I love," Haulstead said of his return this spring.
Haulstead had 38 catches for 587 yards in 2010, and his six touchdown receptions and 15.4 yards per catch were team-bests. He was able to practice a little bit in the lead-up to the Seminoles' Champs Sports Bowl win over Notre Dame in December, but that was as close as he got to rejoining the Seminoles last season.
The 6-foot-3, 233-pounder had suffered a concussion a year earlier as well, and he even admitted Wednesday to suffering from post-concussive symptoms as recently as weeks before this spring season, though he is happy to be back on the field.
"I didn't feel like I had anything to prove," Haulstead said. "I just felt like I had to go out there and do the same things I had done before."
The Titusville, Fla., native's absence allowed newcomers like Rashad Greene to step up, as the true freshman notched 38 catches for 596 yards and seven scores in 2011, which ended with him taking home MVP honors in the bowl game victory.
Haulstead said he hasn't let the deeper talent pool at receiver affect his mentality since his return.
"I didn't feel like I had anything to prove," he said. "I just felt like I had to go out there and do the same things I had done before."
FSU coach Jimbo Fisher thinks Haulstead is not back to his normal self just yet, though he is happy with the receiver's progress through the spring.
"He's starting to get better," Fisher said. "He still needs to lose some weight; he got a little big. If not I'm going to move him to middle linebacker. … He hurt his heel right off the bat [in spring ball] which hindered him. He's playing better, moving better. He had a nice catch and run for a long touchdown the other day. He's progressing. He needs to have a great summer to get back in shape and get back to that old form."